The most important gift you can give a young child is an expansive vocabulary.

Within the joint statement of the International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children is the assertion that, “the single most important activity for building understandings and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children”.

The interaction between an adult and child is an important element towards a child being a successful reader when they enter school. It develops their conversational and language skills.

Reading aloud to children not only builds vocabulary but also increases a child’s motivation to learn to read. It leads them to an awareness that print conveys a message.  It also develops their phonemic awareness (that is rhyme, manipulation of sounds & syllabification) which is a crucial step that needs to be embedded before they commence reading.

Reading aloud can also lead to a significant increase in a child’s comprehension skiIls. It has been found that getting a child to focus on more cognitive demands (such as asking the child to re-tell the story, provide text to text or text to self-connections) translates into them having more developed comprehension skills. Asking children questions related to the story as well as the re-telling of stories allows the adult to determine if the child is following the story and comprehending the message being conveyed. The different levels of questioning are commonly referred to as the “Marion Blank Questions”. There are four different levels of questioning and they can be found at:

Reading to children introduces them to story structure (that is: beginning, middle and end). This is important as when they are asked to tell or write a story, within the classroom environment, they will draw on this knowledge to guide their ideas and structure of events. They will also use the vocabulary heard from books in their writing.

It has been shown that if a child is read to at least three times a week prior to kindergarten, it can translate into higher levels of reading achievement when they begin formal learning. It is crucial that children are read to throughout their junior school years (years 1,2 & 3) as well.

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