I Flew at Warp Speed When She Read Aloud To Me

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By: J. Glenn Hopkins, President/CEO

When I was just a little child, I was a powerful soldier that could beat an entire army with my mighty rubber sword. I was a pilot, swooping down out of the clouds in my super fast jet to race with birds flying south. I was captain of the Starship Enterprise, traveling at warp speed to distant worlds where green people with giant heads lived.

I was all these things in my mind's eye, while my big sister read stories to me from fantastic books she bought home from school. The distant worlds I visited and the battles I fought and won, with my sister at my side, are still vivid and joyful memories to me these many years later.

According to ample research on the subject, the single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual academic success is reading aloud to children.

Reading aloud to a child, for as little as 15 minutes a day, can make a world of difference in that child's early mental development. Children that have someone read aloud to them are twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading readiness. Reading aloud to a child can help develop the necessary skills for linguistic acquisition, double his or her vocabulary, and open the child to words, concepts, and language structure that he or she might not encounter otherwise in routine conversation.

When a child is read to, he or she develops listening skills critical to their future success. Reading aloud to a child helps to increase his self-esteem; and, by making book reading a daily bedtime activity you can help a child maintain a proper sleep schedule, and it can lead to an increase in his or her attention span.

Reading aloud also taps into the natural curiosity of a child. Books about outer space may lead to dreams and aspirations of one day becoming a pliot (or starship captain!). Stories of the great outdoors may lead to an appreciation for environmental conservation. This simple activity can open up all sorts of amazing worlds for a child.

Another wonderful benefit of reading aloud, is the bond that develops between reader and child. By making reading aloud part of the daily routine, memories are born of the joy of reading and those precious moments spent together. These memories, I assure you, can last a lifetime. Still today, I am deeply warmed by the memories of time spent snuggled next to my sister as she read to me.

Despite these many proven benefits, over half of the children in this country are not read aloud to on a daily basis. While every parent wants the absolute best for their child, the grind of everyday life can make any new daily activity, including reading to a child, a real challenge.

With the difficulty of getting a young child to slow down in today’s fast paced environment and the grueling work schedule for most parents, it may not be easy to make reading part of your daily routine. However, whatever your schedule is like, I encourage you to take time out of each day to sit down and read aloud to your child, your brother or sister, or the little one next door – the benefits will last both of you for a lifetime.



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