Read Aloud 15 Minutes Each Day To Give Children A Head Start on School, Life

Read Aloud 15 Minutes Each Day To Give Children A Head Start on School, Life
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The photo above is my wife Maureen and our children, Patrick, Michael and Colleen – now in or near their 30s – reading a book about the heroes of the space program in the 1980s, about the time the first Challenger shuttle mission was launched.

None of the inhabitants of that big, comfy easy chair were destined to become astronauts. But the family has gone on to achieve a law degree, an MBA, a Masters of Science and almost 90 cumulative years of education from kindergarten to graduate studies.  There may have been a summer school session in there, somewhere, too.  None of The Callinans were on a rocket to the top of the class.  But they got educated, plenty.

There was nothing special about this family, as proud as I am of them. Just hard work, a lot of love and support for one another.

And reading, plenty of it.

That personal note leads me to why Charitable Words is looking forward to partnering with Read Aloud 15 minutes, a nonprofit organization that is working to promote reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes every day from birth.

Read Aloud is a national campaign and local outreach that is trying to shift the national norm by focusing on parents as our first and most important teacher, said Candace Kendle, who co-founded Cincinnati-based Kendle International in 1991 and stepped down as CEO in 2011.  Her passion now is early childhood reading.

CW.CandaceK.“We cannot make our education crisis a problem of teachers. Parents need to understand about brain development from birth to age three.  Certainly we need to address preschool needs.”

Kendle believes when every child is read aloud to every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school. Unfortunately, fewer than half of U.S. children 5 and under are read to every day, placing them at risk for reading delays and school failure.

Read Aloud’s promise is bold, yet simple:

“Reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to improve a child’s readiness to read and learn.  By making 15 minutes of daily reading aloud the new parenting standard, we will change the face of education in this country.”

Kendle said she was in a meeting in DC recently week with other former CEOs of Cincinnati-based companies, John Pepper of Procter and Gamble and Macy’s Jim Zimmerman to talk with with Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the importance of pre-school age reading.

“The nation is ready, We can make this happen,” Kendle said.

Founded in 2008, Read Aloud works with local elementary schools, pre-schools, day care providers and faith-based groups to identify to put books into the hands of vulnerable families and provide parents with the tools needed to make the most out of reading aloud.

CW.BigBoxBooksOne of its grass-roots programs is called the Big Box of Books, which puts books into the hands of vulnerable families at “reading parties.”  Read Aloud recently held local Big Box programs in May and will hold them again in November and December, said communications specialist Wendy Taylor.

On its web site, Read Aloud lists some compelling reasons for its mission:

Forty million children will be born in the United States over the next decade. If something does not change, 15 million of those children will not be ready when kindergarten rolls around. The 15 Minutes movement aims to turn daily reading aloud for 15 minutes from a recommendation into a parenting must.

Why is reading aloud so important?

  • Brain development – Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher. From birth to age 3 are critical years for the development of language skills that are the foundation for future learning success.
  • Language – The number of words that a child knows when he or she enters kindergarten is the most important predictor of a child’s success or failure. Reading aloud grows your child’s vocab and introduces many words and concepts that you might not use in everyday conversation.
  • Literacy Skills – Vocabulary, phonics, familiarity with the printed word, storytelling, comprehension. Reading aloud is invaluable for building these skills.
  • Bonding – Reading with a child in your lap is some primo bonding time.
  • Love of Reading – Parents that read aloud are demonstrating that reading is important, pleasurable and valuable.
  • Knowledge – Books have information! You and your child can learn something new when you read aloud.

Nearly half of America’s children are not read aloud to every day. If your child is not reading at grade-level by the end of first grade, there is an 88 percent chance that they will still be behind in fourth grade. This can lead to a disheartened and frustrated child, who feels that they are constantly having to catch up. By age 4, children who are read aloud to regularly have heard an average of 32 million more words than children who are not. Reading aloud is the simplest and most effective way to help our children be ready for a lifetime of learning.

Read Aloud’s current campaign is to ensure parents are reading to their children during the summer months to avoid the “summer slide,”  during time away from classrooms.

To find out how you can help, check out the Read Aloud web site. You can donate, volunteer, become a partner and keep yourself in this dialogue.

At the very least, turn off the TV and the video games for a night.

Snuggle up in that big comfy easy chair, hug your children.

Open a book.

They may squirm a bit now.

But they will thank you later.

- Charitable Words,

Tom Callinan

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