I grew up in a large family and almost all of us are avid readers.
My older sister reads a new book every one to two days. I know what you are thinking – they must be pretty small books!? You wouldn’t think that she could be reading 500 page novels in a single day! But she does. She is just an incredibly fast reader. Once, when I was a small child, I watched her eyes while she read. They flew across the page like an eagle chasing its prey. It was remarkable to see. She tells me she has always loved reading. In fact, she loved reading so much that when she would get in trouble, our parents actually took away her books as punishment! They were more important to her than any other toy.
My younger sister is an avid reader as well. She enjoys classic novels and hasn’t missed a single best-seller. She reads at a more normal pace but never stops. She loves reading and always tells me about the newest book she has just dived into.
My older brother also enjoys reading. He prefers magical and heroic quests that he can immerse himself in. He really connects with individual characters and their struggles. His favourite characters even become part of his everyday life – he cares for his beloved characters so much, he has used their names for his pets and children!
My Dad is the king of reading – for that’s what we all know him as. His personal library is so expansive and he is so fond of his books that my Mom has to sneakily recycle or donate them to make room for more. He reads everything from manuals and historical narratives to Do-It-Yourself books and literary novels. Any topic of conversation, and he has read a book that will enable him to be the master of the discussion. He is a walking encyclopedia (of which he has four sets).
My Mom is less of a reader than the rest of my family but she is only overshadowed due to the vastness of the rest. She is still the only person I know who reads a newspaper (the entire newspaper front to back) every day. This makes her very knowledgeable on current affairs, but, albeit, a less interesting conversationalist – just kidding Mom!
As for myself – well I’ll get to that in a moment…
We’ve all been told at one point that reading to our children is important – and it is! If you weren’t aware of the benefits, nothing says it better than KARA’s newest Playing Together, Growing Together Newsletter – Reading for Pleasure. Children gain literacy skills, build confidence and relationships, shape their imaginations, and become life-long learners! What better way to set your child up for success!
The 20 minute/day rule is what pops out the most to me when I think about my kids and our reading schedules. So I make sure to put in the time and more whenever possible to encourage my children’s healthy reading habits. After all, that’s what my parents and grandparents did, and it worked well for my parents and siblings!
So what more do I need to know?
Well, I was curious what the statistics said about reading. Since we put in so much time (608 hours in the first five years of life!), I was interested to know exactly how the benefits affected a child later in life. Let’s check it out!
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development at the University of Melbourne followed a group of 4,000 children aged 4 to 5 years through until they were 10 to 11 years. The study included taking information on each child’s family environment, early childhood experiences, and physical and socio-emotional state. The study, focusing on the effects of reading, also captured the frequency of parents reading to their child. All this over six years – that’s a lot of data – what did they find?
I’ll tell you! The data showed that reading to children at age 4 to 5 every day had a significant boosting effect on the child’s language, literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills, propelling them ahead of the curve. Reading to a child 3 to 5 days/week boosted the child ahead so that they had the same skills as a child 6 months older than him or her. Reading to a child 6 to 7 days/week boosted the child ahead so that they had the same skills as a child 12 months older than him or her! Crazy, right? Furthermore, children that were read to more frequently at age 4 to 5 achieved higher scores on standardized literacy and numeracy tests in Grade 3 (age 8 to 9). The really cool part is that the differences in reading and cognitive skills are not related to the child’s background or home environment but are the direct result of how frequently they had been read to prior to starting school.
Now, my children are incredibly smart (probably that instinctual-mom-thing-to-say), but they are also just starting their reading journey, so rather than asking my children how they felt reading affected them, I went a different way to determine if the science proved true in my personal life. I asked my 16 year old niece and this is what she had to say on the subject:
“Reading is a very important aspect of my life, and fun as well! Books and stories are very important to me. They help fuel my creative side while working my brain with new words and phrases. I find exercising my brain like this very enjoyable! It probably stems from when my mother would read to me every night. They were usually books like Little House on the Prairie, Black Beauty, and Roald Dahl to mix things up! When I finish school, I plan to become a lawyer. I believe one of the main reasons I want to follow that career path is because I love to read books about solving mysteries and helping people, and I want to relive those precious stories! Reading also drastically improved my vocabulary, ability to write stories, and love for writing, which really helps in the workplace. I just hope I still have time for my stories when I get my dream job!”
Reading this anecdote always makes me tear up! She is going to be a terrific lawyer (although I hope she will always be my editor too)!
Personal Reading Quests
Like the rest of my family, I was read to as a child. Shockingly, I never become an avid reader though. This was always pointed out to me throughout my childhood and even into my adulthood. True, I do read about 5 books a night, but I’m not sure The Very Hungry Caterpillar counts…
Being surrounded by so many other readers and having the same time spent being read to, what happened? Well I never became a reader.
I became a writer!
I hope these narratives, statistics, anecdotes, and inspirational inscriptions inspire you to read to your loved one. It’s never too early or late in the day to pick up a book and spend a couple of minutes sharing an adventure with your child. They will love and cherish it, and it will affect them more than you think!