How important is it for kids to learn to read and build strong literacy skills? Most experts agree it’s essential. Research shows:
- An introduction to books early on is the single most significant factor influencing a child’s educational success.
- Kids who read proficiently by third grade are four times as likely to graduate on time, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
- Earning a high school diploma equates to $1,600 more each month, experts say, as well as qualifying for more and better jobs and promotions. People with high school diplomas are also more likely to have health insurance, be role models for their children, and access a higher quality of life.
Literacy skills are vital because opening a book leads to so much more than reading. Books help kids develop new skills and abilities that help them in school and after graduation. Here are four skills kids learn when they read:
Skill #1: Empathy
Books provide an opportunity for kids to learn about people, places, cultures, traditions and activities they may not encounter in their own lived experience. Research suggests that reading stories written from other people’s perspectives helps the reader relate to other people’s experiences and correlates with improved social interactions.
Skill #2: Self-confidence
Reading can build self-confidence in kids. And representation matters. When a character looks like or has similar characteristics to the child reading the book, the story can show them new possibilities. That could be a new career idea, a place they can travel to, or food they can eat or even different ways to react to things that are happening in their lives.
Additionally, activities like choosing their own book, reading aloud and problem-solving while reading can help children develop which leads to self-confidence. Encourage their development while reading by asking questions about characters in the book, like “what should she do next?” or “why do you think he did that?”
Skill #3: Expanded Vocabulary
The more words kids read and hear the more opportunities they have to expand their vocabulary. Knowing more words fosters better written and verbal communication – an essential skill for school and the workplace.
When reading out loud with kids, identify one new vocabulary word and talk about it. If the story has the word “spectacular,” ask them what they think it means, then share the definition as you know it: “Spectacular means very good.” Emphasize the pronunciation of new words to help kids connect the phonics to the letters within the words.
Skill #4: Pattern Recognition
Every story has a beginning, middle and end. The logical sequence of events in each story helps a reader understand what is happening. This story pattern can help kids start to recognize the order and sequence of effective communication. It can also help build pattern recognition that translates into other school subjects such as math and science.
Building literacy skills is critical to the success children can achieve. Having access to books and reading support is vital. Books at home can help boost children’s academic success, vocabulary development, attention and even the chances of getting a job, research shows. The barriers to achieving literacy are especially daunting for children who come from under-resourced neighborhoods, communities or countries with low GDP
United Way of Snohomish County promotes literacy through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to give more kids the opportunity to build the skills they need. Programs like these are possible because of generous supporters in our community.
Please join us today and help bring life-changing literacy skills to more kids in our community.