Reach Out And Read: Books Make It Better
Literacy is key to the learning of each and every individual as they enter this world with a blank slate. Statistics show that reading aloud to children is the single most effective tool for developing language, literacy, and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory. Early language skills, the foundation for reading ability and school readiness, are based primarily on language exposure resulting from parents and other adults talking —and reading — to young children. Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language; in fact, children's books actually contain 50% more rare words than primetime television or even college students’ conversations.
With that in mind, did you know that 2/3 of families living in poverty in the United States have no books in their homes that are age appropriate for their children? And, fewer than half of young children are read to daily. Can you imagine sending your child to bed without a bedtime story? Per my conversation today with the coordinator of Alabama’s Reach out and Read program, reading the book is not the only way that parents can engage with their children. If the situation warrants it, look at the book and make up your own story. This interaction is the key to early literacy.
I was given the opportunity to join the Books Make It Better campaign courtesy of my involvement with Parenting Magazine. I am running a virtual book drive in which books will be donated to the Reach Out and Read efforts as well as a local book drive. Two schools thus far are participating by allowing anyone to drop off new or gently used books. I will then gather these books over the course of the next 6 weeks and will then deliver them to the Birmingham YWCA.
If you aren’t familiar with the facilities at your local YWCA, definitely make a point to learn what’s available and how you can help. This particular location serves the twenty-six shelters in the Birmingham area. And, because of that, they have adopted a unique library plan. They allow books to be taken from their library without the hassle of returning them. The goal is to encourage parental engagement and give parents the opportunity to spend time with their children helping them learn. The benefits deliver more documentation than I have time to give you here. Simply know that by taking a step to help, you are changing someone’s life.