• Why Read 20 Minutes a Day?

    Let’s face it…parents(and kids) are busy! It is difficult to “fit in” all that needs to be done in aday. We are often faced with having to make choices about what stays and whatgoes in our schedules. So, why is it so critical to include 20 minutes ofreading in your child’s daily schedule? There is a wealth of researchsupporting daily reading with your child especially prior to and during theperiod when s/he is learning to read. Here are a few of the ways reading withyour child for 20 (or more) minutes a day benefits him or her.

    Reading is “brainfood”

    Our brains develop aswe “feed” them with experiences. The experience of reading (whether you’re thereader or the one being read to) activates and “exercises” many of the areas ofthe brain. The visual cortex works as your eyes track the words on the page andlook at the illustrations. Your memory makes connections between what youalready know about the topic of the story and its content. You integrate newinformation learned through reading further strengthening and growing yournetwork of knowledge. Reading provides one of the most enriching and complexbrain activities available in life.

    Reading improveslistening skills

    What parent doesn’twant their child to be a good listener? The experience of being read to helpschildren develop good listening skills by keying them into the components oflanguage. Through reading they learn to recognize phonemes (the sound buildingblocks of language), learn new words to add to their oral vocabularies andconnect written words to their real world applications.

    Reading builds earlyliteracy skills

    Before a child canread independently she must have phonemic awareness and a basic understandingof phonics. Phonemic awareness or the understanding that words are made up ofdistinct sounds that affect their meaning is the precursor to reading. Readingaloud to your child is one of the main ways to help him develop phonemicawareness. Beyond this, in order to read, a person must understand that thereis a connection between letters and sounds. Without this knowledge letters arejust squiggles on a page! When you read with your child she learns that printis a representation of the words you say aloud. Repeated experiences withreading allow this understanding to grow. The single greatest factor in achild’s ability to read is early experiences being read aloud to.

    Reading prepareschildren for kindergarten

    In this day and agechildren are expected to come into kindergarten with a strong knowledge base.Today’s kindergarteners are expected to enter the classroom on day one with aknowledge of upper and lower case letters of the alphabet, the ability torecognize basic shapes and colors and the ability to count to ten. Readingbooks tailored towards youngsters with your child helps them develop theseimportant and necessary skills.

    Practice makes perfect

    Generally, the moretime you are exposed to something and the more time you spend practicing it,the better you’ll become at performing it. This is absolutely true for reading.Research shows that children who have repeatedly been exposed to books frombirth generally exhibit strong reading abilities.

    Reading improvesacademic performance

    There is a strongcorrelation between a child’s ability to read and her academic performance.Because so much of our schooling relies on our abilities to read, children musthave strong reading skills to succeed and thrive in school.

    Reading just makes“cents”

    For every year that aperson spends reading (either independently or being read aloud to), his/herlifetime earning potential goes up considerably. For a time investment ofapproximately 87 hours a year (20 minutes a day for 5 days a week), you canincrease your child’s ability to support him or herself in the futureconsiderably.

    Reading improvesrelationships

    Because we are busy itis difficult to have “quality” one-on-one time with our children withoutdistractions. Building 20 minutes into each day for reading together providesthis important bonding time. There is nothing more wonderful than snuggling ayoung child on your lap while reading a few storybooks aloud. Even if yourchild is beyond the “snuggling” stage, spending 20 minutes readingindependently provides you with quiet, uninterrupted time together engaged inthe same activity.