Reading benefits not only the individual, but also society as a whole. When a country has high literacy rates it means that a large proportion of the population can read well. Being able to read helps people to find jobs and escape poverty which helps physical health. Namibia has some of the highest literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Here, 92% of the population can read. However, other countries have literacy rates as low as 20%.
Why is it important to read with children?
The best process of learning how to read starts at home when children are very young. Children who listen to their parents reading do better in tests once they start school. They also have on average a larger vocabulary and gain general knowledge of the world. Research also shows that reading to babies prepares them to start talking. Likewise, the act of reading creates emotional bonds with family and friends. This then creates positive emotional relationships.
What are some simple techniques for reading with children?
- When reading picture books, point at the pictures and say the names of what you see. This will help children make the connection between the words and the pictures.
- If the child can already talk, discuss what you’ve read together. Ask questions like: What do you think will happen next? Why do you think the character behaved this way? If you were the character, what would you do?
- Move your finger along the page from left to right as you read. Even with young children this helps enforce the idea that words are read in this direction.
- Act out parts of the story you are reading and put emotion in your voice as you tell the story. This helps to engage the child.
- Finally, read regularly. By reading often you’re letting the child know that reading is an enjoyable but also important skill.
One of the best ways to help children become literate is to start reading with them early on. But reading does not have to stop once the child can read alone. Reading aloud together should continue through school. By reading books aloud that are beyond their own reading level, you can continue to stretch a child’s mind. Further, being read to aloud has been shown to help young readers learn how to read better. It also helps to expand their vocabulary. Literate children will be better prepared for secondary school and for life beyond.