Friday, April 2, 2010

Cultivating a love of reading in young children

Farah Ali
Shaila Abdullah

 Salima Jaffer reading to her children, Keyaan and Mikyle. Rahim Jaffer

    The shout “bedtime!” at the end of the day is greeted with cheers at the Jaffer household, thanks to a fun ritual that the whole family looks forward to – reading together.

    “Reading a story to the children is part of our daily bedtime routine,” says Rahim Jaffer, of Vancouver – father to 5-year-old Keyaan and 22-month-old Mikyle – “so much that Keyaan won't go to sleep unless he's had a chance to read a story, even a short one.”

    Children are like sponges: eager to learn. Research indicates that when soaked with the right kind of learning – such as reading – the benefits can resonate long after the book is closed. Parents can improve their children's chances of being successful at school, simply by being active and regular readers to them.

    But what evidence supports this belief? In a report called The Effect of Family Literacy Interventions on Children's Acquisition of Reading, Dr Monique Sénéchal, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University, did a review of 14 intervention studies, representing 1 174 families. She found that parent involvement does have a positive impact on children's reading acquisition.

    “Reading books to young children exposes children to ideas, concepts, and language that can be novel, more varied, and more complex than those typically introduced during parent-child conversations,” says Dr Sénéchal “Indeed, there is an association between the amount of shared reading at home and young children's vocabulary.”

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