Children Benefit from Early Literacy

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Susanna Block
CCF Board Member
We know reading to children is important. The degree of importance of early literacy can make for a child is astonishing.

Many important reading concepts begin before kindergarten. The first three years of a child’s life are a critical period to promote parent-child reading. Studies show us that a child—from birth to 3 years of age—benefit greatly from an abundant early literacy environment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new policy statement on June 24, 2014, recommending pediatricians and policy makers promote reading aloud to children daily, beginning in infancy. Read the article in the news-magazine of the American Academy of Pediatrics here.

Early literacy plays a crucial role in school success and reading ability. Frequent positive literacy experiences in preschool are directly correlated with:

Improvement in teacher rating of oral skills at age 5 and reading comprehension at age 7.

Reading achievement success in second grade.

But early literacy does not mean early reading. Early literacy emphasizes positive exposure to a reading-rich environment. Research tells us there are short term and long lasting benefits from exposing children to books and language at an early age.

Children enter kindergarten with different knowledge levels. Those who enter with the least knowledge of beginning reading skills are most at risk to struggle academically.

A U.S. Department of Education report from February 2000 demonstrates that kindergarteners who are living in poverty, from single parent homes or non-English speaking families have fewer reading and math skills and exhibit more behavioral problems in school. The benefits of early literacy does not stop at kindergarten, it continues throughout the school years.

The frequency of parent-child reading increases when parents receive support from policies that encourage early literacy. There is a demonstrated increase in the expressive and receptive language scores of children who are involved in reading promoting programs.

In an exciting progression in Washington state, the idea of early literacy has moved from academia to policy! Supporting parent engagement and early literacy programs are a core part of Washington’s Early Learning System.

Some parents and caregivers don’t have the tools to read aloud to their children daily. Others are unaware of the importance and do not give it a priority in their children’s lives.

Early childhood learning continues to be a fundamental area of interest for the Children’s Campaign Fund.