Facts About Reading Aloud
Reading Aloud Important, but Too Many Children Neglected
Reading aloud to children is vital because it helps them acquire the information and skills they need in life:
- Knowledge of printed letters and words, and the relationship between sound and print.
- The meaning of words.
- How books work, and a variety of writing styles.
- The world in which they live.
- The difference between written language and everyday conversation.
- The pleasure of reading.
Reading to young children promotes language acquisition and literacy development and, later on, achievement in reading comprehension and overall success in school. The percentage of young children read aloud to daily by a family member is one indicator of how well young children are prepared for school. Yet, recent studies on family reading suggest too many youngsters go without the benefit of a family member reading to them.
The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) collected information on children who were born in 2001 and focused on several aspects of early childhood development, including interactions between young children and their families and the ways by which parents raise, nurture, and prepare their children for school. Data were collected on the children as infants (at about 9 months old), then as toddlers (at about 2 years old), and again as preschoolers (at about 4 years old).
- At each age, between one-third and one-half of these children were read to daily by a family member. In addition, approximately one-fourth of children at each of these ages were told stories daily, and between one-half and three-quarters were sung to daily.
- In general, at all ages, a higher percentage of White children had family members who read to them daily than did children of other races/ethnicities.
- A higher percentage of Asian children were read to than Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native children at all ages, and than African American children at ages 2 and 4 (with rates not measurably different at 9 months of age).
- Forty-one percent of White, 26 percent of Asian, 23 percent of African American, 21 percent of Hispanic, and 18 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native 9-month-olds had family members who read to them daily.
- Overall, a smaller percentage of children in poverty were read to, told stories, or sung to daily by a family member than children at or above poverty.
- In general, levels of maternal education were positively related to the percentage of children who were read to, told stories, or sung to daily.
- A smaller percentage of children whose families spoke a language other than English in the home were read to, told stories, or sung to daily than children whose families spoke primarily English in the home.
Source: U.S. Department of Education.