|the stats on being read to and outcomes probably are very connected to the social/economic factors at play.
Actually, that's not so. I wish I could just type in the whole text of the daggone Trelease book here, because the guy is just so great on this subject. It's really a book worth having, as is Esme's. Anyway, he points out in a number of places that even considering social and economic factors, being read to (and then in turn learning to love reading) is a huge boost to children's ability to learn. It's not just that the kids who are being read to also have all these other advantages. Even if you have few other advantages, if you have parents who read to you, you're apt to do better.
|books are taking away imagination and creative thinking from kids.
Okay, maybe this is just the English major in me talking, but whaaaa-at? I've heard that TV is taking away imagination and creative thinking, but BOOKS? What in the world? I can think of nothing else I did in my childhood that fostered my imagination and creative thinking more
than reading. The books I read sparked all kinds of wild imaginings, desires to learn more about worlds and people I had never encountered, and the eagerness to make up my own stories. (I penned "Life is Hard," dictated to my mother, at four. "Diary of a Dog" remains one of my favorites.)
My kids are too young to make up stories that have subplots--DD is just turning 3 and DS is not yet one. But DD definitely makes up stories all the time. (Lately lots of them involve dragons.) And I love hearing them and asking questions about them. A lot of her stories are sparked by the books we read--she gets an idea about a character or creature and then goes wild with it.
|this whole emphasis on knowing colours, shapes and the amount of shame associated with the children who do not know them is just plain ridiculous.
I think perhaps you may be confusing people talking about the importance of reading to a child with the dictatorial idea that kids must learn rote things like letters, numbers, etc. very early on and must be reading to themselves far sooner than is developmentally appropriate. Trelease's book, for example, is very critical of "Baby Einstein" and the push to drill this stuff into kids at an early age, particularly in the section "Can You Recommend Something That Will Teach My Child to Read Before Kindergarten?" The point is to read to and with children for fun, pleasure and joy, and they will learn without even realizing it because they're enjoying it so much.
I know that's what happened to me. I remember my mom's reading one chapter of the original Peter Pan to me every night before bed when I was about four. One chapter only, no matter how much I begged for more. Smart woman--I was insanely hooked and couldn't wait
for the next night to hear what happened next.
|nothing needs to be taught to children. in time they pick it up on their own.
But reading to your child, and eventually reading with them, isn't
"teaching" them to read, not in the traditional way of lecturing or making someone study a skill. Reading aloud to kids is not, or shouldn't be, about "teaching" them to read. It will absolutely help them learn to read--there is virtually no doubt about that. But it's not a "lesson." It's learning at its best--learning when you don't realize you're doing it because you're having so much fun.
I don't think my daughter realized that she was learning to read tonight when she asked me to read "eelya deelya" (Amelia Bedelia) again. She just loved hearing about how "Amelia Bedelia sat right down and she drew those drapes." But she was learning, in a lovely combination of "picking it up on her own" and sharing it with me.
In general, you will find that the advocates of read-aloud like Trelease and Esme are much in agreement with David Elkind, author of "The Hurried Child," and other child development experts, who are rather appalled that the whole body of research and knowledge about the importance of the first three years was turned into a giant industry of playing Mozart in utero and teaching Mandarin to your nine-month-old. I really think it's a major misunderstanding to lump the issue of reading aloud to your child in with the whole hyper-enrichment Parenting Olympics thing.