Why is Reading Important?
Children and students who learn to read, and see the adults around them reading, are more likely to develop the kind of critical thinking skills that will help them to stay in school, succeed in life, and contribute to their community. All children need the opportunity to succeed in their efforts to learn.
Children need positive adult mentors who are willing to build supportive relationships with them and encourage them to become productive, successful members of their community.
Why focus on literacy?
(Oregon Progress Board, 2007 County Data Snapshot)
Up until the fourth grade, children learn to read. After that point, children read to learn
Consequently, children must enter school ready to learn and quickly hone their literacy skills. In middle school and high school, youth must continue to hone their skills and be encouraged to develop a lifelong habit of reading in order to succeed. While many factors influence how well a child does in an academic setting, early intellectual growth plays a crucial role. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, "Investing in children from birth to age 3 is the only way to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential."
Without the abilities necessary for a solid start, children are at risk of academic difficulties that can affect their entire education
To amplify the importance of children having a strong reading skill when they enter school, the Carnegie Foundation report Ready to Learn: A Mandate for the Nation indicates a 90 percent probability that a poor reader at the end of first grade will be a poor reader at the end of the fourth grade. Children whose parents help them develop literacy skills are more likely to gain the proficiency neccessary to thrive academically.
Children need to be exposed to books at a very early age
Research demonstrates that when children listen to stories, they gain crucial language skills. Learning to read and write begins at infancy and continues throughout the toddler years. According to Dr. Paul Thompson with UCLA, "Recent neurodevelopment research has shown that even before children can read themselves, reading aloud to very young children is extremely beneficial to the child." First Books reports, “The only behavioral measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. Additionally, the more types of reading materials there are in the home, the higher students score in reading proficiency.”
Research tells us that literacy development begins in the very early stages of childhood
Early behaviors such as "reading" from pictures and "writing" with scribbles are examples of emergent literacy and are an important part of children's literacy development. With the support of parents, caregivers, early childhood educators, and teachers, as well as exposure to a literacy-rich environment, children progress from emergent to conventional reading.