“It’s not the toys in the house that make the difference in children’s lives; it’s the words in their heads,” says Jim Trelease in The Read-Aloud Handbook. You intuitively know that reading aloud is good for your kids, but Trelease lays out such compelling, well-researched reasons to read to your kids that you’ll soon find it impossible to say no to one more story.
Children’s books are an excellent source of new vocabulary. Researchers developed a common lexicon consisting of the 10,000 words we use most often. Any word beyond those words is considered “rare.” Children’s books provide 30.9 rare words per thousand, versus nine rare words per thousand found in conversation of an adult talking to a 3-year-old, or 17.3 rare words per thousand found in adult conversation. The rich vocabulary found in children’s books helps children when it comes to school readiness.
Here are some tips from The Read-Aloud Handbook that you can start using immediately:
- Read to your child from day one.
- Keep reading to your child until he’s a teenager.
- Make yours a print-rich home, with books, magazines, and newspapers in every room.
- Buy your older child a book-light to stay up late reading, and say yes to one more book request from your younger child.
- Set a good example by being an active reader yourself.
The Read-Aloud Handbook is full of great insight and information, and also contains a vast “Treasure of Read-Alouds” — targeted book recommendations for every age. See also Jim Trelease’s Web site for more information and resources.