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Everyday Learners: Read aloud

By Shelby Bohling - Special to the Daily Herald | Aug 6, 2022

Courtesy photo

Sonia DeGriselles reads with her children.

Did you know that when children are read aloud one picture book a day, by the time they are 5 years old and entering kindergarten they are estimated to have heard an estimated 1.4 million more words than children who are not read to? Many people know the importance of conversation and language in a child’s life, but it is common to not understand the importance of actually reading books aloud to a child. A 2019 study at Ohio State University looked at the Word Gap, which is the difference in heard vocabulary for children who are regularly read to vs. children who are not read. They concluded that in-home reading aloud is an excellent resource for closing the Word Gap.

The Word Gap isn’t the only reason that families should be reading aloud to children. For infants and young children, reading aloud is also a great way to promote bonding and a healthy caregiver/child attachment. This reading time helps promote safety, both physical and emotional, along with love and emotional attachment. Reading aloud can also help young children with emotional learning. They are watching your facial expressions, tone and general actions when you are reading. If the book character is sad and you make a sad face, they begin to pick up on those expressions and social cues. When your baby begins to mimic those facial expressions, and the sounds that are made when you are showing the different emotions, they are really working to develop many different areas of the brain.

Now that we know the importance of reading aloud, it’s time to implement it. This is easier said than done — especially if you don’t have the books or aren’t quite sure where to add reading aloud into your schedule. Adding it to your child’s daily routine can help you get into the habit of reading aloud every day. For example, if you start reading aloud before bedtime or nap time every day, they will eventually learn that a book signals that it is time to start slowing down and relaxing to get ready to sleep. This may help with when to do it, but there is still the question of where do I get the books. We have a few different resources that we recommend checking out if you are looking for books.

Public libraries are a great place to start. In Utah County alone, there are 11 public libraries. These are great because not only are they free, they also offer fun programs that you and your children can participate in, too!

Public libraries have so many options that you could read a different book every day of the year. We also recommend looking around your neighborhood to see if you have any lending libraries. These are typically little boxes in people’s yards that have lots of different books in them. You can pick up different books to try, or drop of any books that you would like to donate.

If you would like a list of the lending libraries in Utah County, reach out to everydaylearners@unitedwayuc.org. If you’re looking to grow your at home library, we recommend checking out the Ready to Learn classes that are offered through Welcome Baby of Utah County.

Each month, they cover a different topic related to child development. When you participate, either though a virtual or in-person option, you have an opportunity to receive free children’s books! These books are a mix between classic and new titles. They also have Spanish books available. If you are interested in these Ready to Learn classes, you can reach out to Welcomebaby@unitedwayuc.org to learn more.

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