How do we create the next generation of American readers?

General facts:

  • 80 million adults in our country are illiterate
  • 50% of our African American and Hispanic students read on grade level
  • First Grade and second graders need to learn 600 to 800 words a year, an average of two per day

Research on Adults

A recent study involving two groups of adults revealed the following:

  • Group One – The adult works, shops and comes home and watches entertainment, but they have almost no involvement in civic life or cultural life and don’t read.
  • Group Two – has the same interests as the first group, but they read. They are 3 to 4 times more likely to volunteer, participate in charity work, vote, exercise, play sports and participate in sporting events. They live an average of 6 years longer than group one.

Reading is an extremely complicated practice the human brain has to do; it involves many rules such as decoding, language structure rules, vocabulary and much more. The complicated brain functions can be started early in life, beginning at birth. We must build structures that support children to prepare for reading.

Reading starts in the crib during infancy! Babies need to be enveloped by soothing sounds, words, and books. Infants need to be exposed to books, knowing the black lines on the pages mean something, whether they are looking at the book or chewing the book…BABIES NEED BOOKS, LAPS, AND THE SWEET SOUNDS OF THE MOTHER, FATHER OR THE CAREGIVER'S VOICE. This encourages a baby's brain to develop the ability to react to the changes in sounds. The faster those shifts occur, the more language becomes embedded in the child’s brain and becomes a predictor of reading acquisition.

So, what matters? It starts in the crib and the baby's brain matters. Stimulating the baby's brain with rich language and all the sounds babies hear makes a difference. Motherese, the cooing language we often use when talking with a baby, helps a child to bridge the sounds together that eventually form words. The tenderness of Motherese makes receiving language a joy. When babies are exposed to short staccato autocratic language, they have difficulty building bridges from the sounds to make words. As a child is developing language skills with caring adults, they are developing relationships with loving people. Strong language development often means strong relationships for the future.

Tomorrow we will add the importance of the environment.

Post by Stephen Zwolak

Steph SmithComment