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Literacy Rocks! Come Read To Me......

article posted 00/00/0000
By: Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli, President/CEO Boys & Girls Club of the Monroe Area Several years ago, I participated in a Rotary Club outreach activity called the Read Aloud Program. That particular program was focused on the children in a second grade classroom at the local elementary school. A recent discussion on the topic of literacy got me thinking again about the benefits of hosting a “Read Aloud” program at our local Boys & Girls Club. Did you know that reading to or children at an early age and then allowing them to read to us or independently for 20 minutes a day will greatly enhance our children’s overall success. According to www.k12reader.com, reading improves listening skills, improves academic performance, builds early literacy skills, and prepares children to reach their full potential. I thought it might be helpful if I shared some of the benefits of a Read Aloud Program, so here they are: 1) A Read Aloud program enables us to help children to strengthen their listening and comprehension skills; 2) We can help children to increase their vocabulary, and the use of words by hearing those words used in context; 3) We can help children to improve their memory and language skills as the hear various writing styles and begin to paraphrase their understanding; 4) We can help children to gain information about the world around them that they might not otherwise hear about; and 5) We can help children to begin to develop an individual interest in a broad array of subjects or topics, and can thus further develop their imagination and creativity which could also lead to strengthening the inquiry skills we all need. When my daughter Gabrielle was in the 2nd and 3rd grades, her favorite books were those about nature, animals, and science. So whenever she and I went to the local Barnes & Noble Book Store we nearly always came home with a new book that had something to do with the nature, animals or humans. Of course the two of us would sit up together night after night reading those books together while she became completely enthralled with the accompanying photos in the book. Today, my daughter Gabrielle is a sophomore at Baylor University where she is a pre-med major. She plans on being a doctor. I cannot help but think that all of our reading together during those formative years had a positive influence on her life, and perhaps even guided her toward the medical field! So, you might be wondering, when in a child’s life might we gain the greatest return on investment as related to reading? Well “research reveals that the return (on investment) are highest from the early years of schooling when children are first learning to read….The early years set the stage for later learning. Without the ability to read, excellence in high school and beyond is unattainable.” Richard C. Anderson, Elfrieda H. Hiebert, Judith A. Scott, and Ian A.G. Wilkinson, Becoming a Nation of Readers: the Report of the Commission on Reading (Champaign-Urbana, IL: Center for the Study of Reading, 1985). Want more information on the value of reading at an early age, then visit: http://www.readingfoundation.org/reading_research.jsp According to the article, What Recent Reviews Tell Us About the Efficacy of Reading Interventions for Struggling Readers in the Early Years of Schooling (Meree Reynolds, K. Wheldall & A. Madelaine, International Journal of Disability, Development and Education. Vol 58, Issue 3, 2011, Pp257-286), “a significant percentage of students experience difficulty” when entering the school system. It is thought that 33% of young children will struggle with reading skills. Also, they found that, according to the national Institute of Child Health and Human development, 20% of young children experience reading problems before the third grade and determined “that many young students struggle to acquire basic reading skills that are taught in the early years of schooling.” Recently, I read an article about something called a “decodable text.” A “decodable text provides a scaffolding of alphabetic principles as it includes a high percentage of phonetically regular words comprised of taught letter-sounded correspondences…” This basically communicates a belief that the more often a child reads early in their life, the more likely they will recognize letter-sound correspondences. This information came by way of Jennifer P. Cheatam, Jill H. Allor in their work entitled: The influence of decodability in early reading text on reading achievement….2011. So what does all of this mean? Well, it means that a child who is read to early in life will have a higher likelihood of decoding the text when reading independently later in school. This achievement will likely lead to success in elementary school, excellence in high school and greater college preparedness. The data presented in these preceding three-four paragraphs were provided by Suzanne Horne, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Literacy Coalition (TLC). The TLC works hard to assist 28.1% of the adults living in poverty within our state who may not have achieved these important reading skills early in life. The research above communicates that prevention is the key, and that reading 20 minutes each day will set the course for success for these children when the reach adulthood. For more information about the Tennessee Literacy Coalition go to www.tnliteracy.org So what can you do to strengthen literacy in our community? Get involved in the Read Aloud Program at the Boys & Girls Club now! Read alouds at the Boys & Girls Club can be used to introduce lessons, provide an introduction to new concepts, to increase vocabulary, to help bring abstract ideas to life, or to encourage discussion and investigation. In addition, the colorful illustrations can elicit a wide variety of engaging discussions and stories well beyond the words that can be found on the page. If you are thinking about participating in the Club’s Read Aloud program you may be wondering how to select a book to share with the children. Here are a few ideas to help you in that process: 1) young children sometimes find it difficult to separate fact from fiction, so be careful to select a book with the most accurate information; 2) select a book based upon a specific purpose, remember that the Boys & Girls Club focuses our work on strengthening good decision making, building character, improving education, and in helping children to make good life decisions, and on creating and living by healthy habits; 3) select a book that would encourage questions and engagement between the children and yourself; and 4) think about connections to other literature and to the genre topic of the Club’s work. So as you can see, there is potentially great value in Read Aloud programs. I want to encourage each of you to pick a favorite book that you can share with our kids. Give us a call, and come out and join us some afternoon. Not only will you be helping our children to improve their listening and comprehension skills, I guarantee you that you will also feel good about helping these children all while assisting us in our charge to improve literacy rates in Monroe County. Want to share your favorite “young-person” book with the children of the Boys & Girls Club, just give us a call at (423) 442-6770 and let us know that you’d like to stop by and read to our kids. I just know our children would like to meet you, and they’d love to have you read to them too!