Most young children are not read to on a daily basis. - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-29-2009, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A recent study commissioned by Reach Out and Read revealed that the majority of young children — 52 percent — are not being read to on a daily basis. That's 13 million children under 6 years old who are going to bed every night without a bedtime story — without the undivided, loving attention that comes with sharing a favorite book with their parents
Dr. Barry Zuckerman, Reach Out and Read


One of my blogging friends is discussing this at her site - here is her post, with an active discussion taking place in the comments.
How can we encourage reading aloud?
http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/200...ing-aloud.html

I'm not sure that link is working, here's another try
http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/200...ing-aloud.html

http://jkrbooks.typepad.com/blog/ (about the third post down right now)

I thought it would be interesting to discuss as parents, and share thoughts on helping improve the numbers.

I'm a huge fan of Jim Trelease's book, The Read Aloud Handbook, which emphasizes the importance of reading with children, and the benefits and harms of reading or not reading to kids. It's one of the best books I've read as a parent.

Thanks! I love talking about reading and can't wait to hear your thoughts.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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Reading is something I am very passionate about as well. My dd is 8 and we still read together and out loud. Reading before bed is just a normal routine for us. Every now and then I'll throw in a British or a country twang, and try to get her to do the same and we just have a ball. I also tutor a child in reading at her school 1x/week.
Some excuses I've heard from parents as to why they don't read to their children - They learn better from someone else.
If they are having problems, I can hire a tutor.
We don't have time.

It is just endless. I feel so bad for children who don't have that opportunity and the parents just don't realize what they are missing out on.
At my dd's school they even run a campaign to get kids to sign up for library cards for the public library. The librarian was sad to see how many children do not have library cards or even step foot in a library.

My mom had told me that she offered to help a little girl at her church w/her reading and the mother's response was "I'll think about it".

I just don't understand parents today.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:14 PM
 
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My kids got read to every night and at the bus stop for years until they could be out there alone. We often share passages from the books we are reading with each other. Both my kids are gifted and both of them are avid readers.

I don't think folks realize how important this is.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:48 PM
 
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I'm a devoted bookworm. I read all the time. My kids are read to all the time. BUT ... in a way I really don't see the big deal, IF those kids are receiving parental attention and stimulation by other means. Do their parents get down on the floor and play with them? Encourage their imaginations? Involve them in their everyday activities? Storytell without books? Read to them sometimes, if not every day? Give their children "undivided, loving attention" that has nothing to do with reading?

Like I said, I love books ... but I have a hard time with the notion that parents who don't are by definition deglecting a necessity. There are a lot of cultures in this world in which leisure reading is just not an element, in which children are still given rich, full upbringings.
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:07 PM
 
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I think it's sad, but, I do understand how it can happen. The modern/Western lifestyle is completely frenetic. I seriously don't know how most of my aquaintances have time to take a deep breath, let alone sit down for 1/2 hour and read to their kids every day.

We have regular, short reads for before bed, and i try to make that daily, but I'm ashamed to say that sometimes, the day before we return books to the library, I'll realize we've only read together one or two out of the 15 we brought home.

I must say, I'm sad that my children are missing out on what I and my siblings got from my dad--almost nightly reading of the true old children's classics. Everything from The Black Cauldron to The Pilgrim's Progress. I simply *can't* to that at this stage. Second best though is books on tape, and they got to bed every night listening to things like Charlottes Web and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:17 PM
 
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Every night (well most nights, sometimes things get too crazy) since I was pregnant with DS DH has read us a chapter of a book at bedtime. When I was pregnant we started reading the Narnia Chronicles and when we finished with those books we moved on to Philip Pullmans "His dark Materials" (where The Golden Compass is from) After DS was born DH would read as I nursed him to sleep. We plan on doing this forever.

My parents were not always there for us and were pretty selfish people but some of my best memories are of my mom reading me a chapter from novels and series of books at bed time

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Old 01-29-2009, 02:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 1xmom View Post
Some excuses I've heard from parents as to why they don't read to their children - They learn better from someone else.
If they are having problems, I can hire a tutor.
We don't have time.

It is just endless. I feel so bad for children who don't have that opportunity and the parents just don't realize what they are missing out on.
At my dd's school they even run a campaign to get kids to sign up for library cards for the public library. The librarian was sad to see how many children do not have library cards or even step foot in a library.

My mom had told me that she offered to help a little girl at her church w/her reading and the mother's response was "I'll think about it".

I just don't understand parents today.
Parental functional illiteracy is one reason (not "excuse") that many children are not read to on a nightly basis. A parent may not feel like revealing that reason to you if they do not know you extremely well or trust you completely.

http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/628308

"In the US, 43% of the adult population is at the below or basic level for prose literacy"

So before you roll your eyes and judge the "bad parents" who don't read to their kids every night, remember that there can be reasons that are not apparent.
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:25 PM
 
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I remember my mom reading with me when I was little. There was nothing better than spending hours at the library, scouring the shelves of the kids section. I also had some TV-time, but Mom didn't let me sit there and stare at the screen all day -- like some parents I know.

I'm going to make it a point to read to my little one as often as possible, and I know m'loves will back me up on it. We're all bookworms.

- Born 7/21/09
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:27 PM
 
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The main reason I had children was so I could read to them.

(Okay, I'm joking. Mostly.)
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:30 PM
 
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Wow... I can't believe those numbers - it is really sad. My mom read to us every night. When we got older she would read books like Little Women. There was nothing I enjoyed more than snuggling up to my mom and listening to her read.

I read to my DD everyday - before bed and then throughout the day. She demands it when she is on the potty and will bring my books all the time.

We go to the library once a week for a "Toddler Time" and check out new books.

Even doing all that sometimes I feel like I should be reading even more!

Me: Shannon (33) mom to DD Everly born May 9, 2007 and Maisie born May 26
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:33 PM
 
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I regard the fact that both my mom and dad read to me nightly (they were divorced and my dad would even call me to read from Uncle Wiggly's Fairy Tales over the phone) as the very best thing my parents did for me - the thing I am most grateful for. I am sure my love of reading exacerbated my "giftedness" in school, and is largely responsible for the knowledge I posses now. I still love to read. It enriches my life. :

I plan to do the same for my kids. From day one. Really I should get started now, because my mom even read to me in the womb. :

I agree that many parents can barely read (or are just bad at reading out loud), and that probably an equal number just won't (or truly can't) make time. I think that's so sad for all involved.

I'm Kellie :, married to Chris , and mom to one baby girl (7/12/09).
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:36 PM
 
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I agree that it is important, and I did/do read to pre-readers daily and aloud with my reading dd 2-3/week, but I don't think that much is necessary for others. I remember reading somewhere that having parents that read for their own recreation has a greater impact on children's read ing than if the children are read to regularly. I think occassional reading to kids is necessary but as a pp said I think their are other equally important things parents can do with their kids.
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:03 PM
 
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I've heard though, that reading to your kids doesn't really matter. I think this was in Freakanomics, although Freakanomics mostly cited numbers from other sources so I imagine that it's published elsewhere.

Basically though, you just need to have books in the house. Owning books is an indicator of a socio-economic status and value system that is likely to produce kids who succeed academically. It's like eating supper as a family. It's an indicator of a lifestyle and a value system. You can't beat your kids, and be an otherwise absentee parent, and then cancel the effects on your children by eating a home cooked meal together four times a week.

Our personal experience is anecdotal, but we had way more time to read to our first DD than our second. Our second was not really read to a lot as a baby or toddler... although she heard lots of language, songs, music, and we did lots of other things and went lots of places. Our second DD was a proficient reader before she turned three though, and is still a better reader now than her sister who is sixteen months older.

There's a really interesting book called "The Myth of the First Three Years" that talks about the lack of evidence supporting casual relationships for many things that supposed impact a child's early development.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:25 PM
 
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Oh, reading does matter! I just finished reading Jim Trelease's wonderful "Read-Aloud Handbook" and wish I could just transcribe the whole thing here to explain why. For example, the National Commission on Reading's 1985 report, Becoming a Nation of Readers, concluded that "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."

Trelease also notes that the DoE's 1999 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that children who were read to at least three times a week were al most twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading.

The book is chock-full of great information about why reading aloud to your child is so essential--not just when they're too young to read to themselves. It also has great info on how to read aloud, how to nurture reading in your child, and a treasury of read-aloud books.

I also love How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell. She and Trelease both include great ideas for encouraging read-aloud in schools and communities.

My mom read to me every night as a child, and those are some of my most cherished memories. We read aloud to Annika and Adrian every night, and our house is chock-full of books. Recently--thanks to Trelease and Esme--I've stocked a box in the kitchen full of books, and we read at the kids' dinner time as well. (They eat early as my DH doesn't get home until almost 8.) Annika now digs eagerly through the box for her dinnertime reads, and she usually wants at least 4 more at bedtime. (Adrian's too young to do anything but yell "Boo, boo!" (meaning book).

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Old 01-29-2009, 03:31 PM
 
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I read at least 4 books a week, but I don't read to DD everyday. We have a bedtime story book, but it's an occasional thing. We read to her if she brings us a book, and we read her magazines that come in the mail. Our house is covered in books though. She lately is liking to read the National Geographic with us. She likes the pictures!

Erin, mom to Amelia Rose:, 6/15/06 and Lily Grace, 6/7/09; wife to Phil since 10/9/04
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:36 PM
 
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that's a high percentage I really do enjoy reading to my kids and between the four of them, for sure it happens at least once a day.

Now, my older two can read well by themselves but my 5 yo still enjoys laying in bed with me reading, actually my DD does as well and we are halfway thru Where the Sidewalk ends because we read a handful of poems most nights. If I'm not available, she reads to her dolls.

What I was going to say is I agree that the biggest influence might be having a lot of books in the house and the parents reading (to themselves). I love to read, always have at least one book I'm into at the moment, and I really think my kids love for reading is partly due to that. DD will grab a book and sit quietly reading it while I'm doing the same. If kids don't often see their parents enjoying a book, I think there's a lot more chance they won't see reading as a good, pleasurable thing; rather a chore (like DH tends to think, and only does so when he needs to for work or similar).

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Old 01-29-2009, 03:44 PM
 
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Hubby and read to our 8 mo old son every day. He may not always pay attention, but we like reading to him and interacting with him like that.
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ginadc View Post
Trelease also notes that the DoE's 1999 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that children who were read to at least three times a week were al most twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading.
Let me start by saying we're avid readers in this house so I'm not against reading to children.

However, what you're citing above doesn't prove anything. Children who are read to at least 3x/week probably have a host of other household/familial factors in play. For example, if parents are reading to them 3x/day they probably are more likely to have books in the house, more time to spend with children, perhaps better nutrition and sleep patterns as a result of socio-economic status, etc.
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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I do think reading to kids is important, but I also think that there are other influential factors involved as well. Homes where reading to children takes place may be more likely to engage in other activities, perhaps they:

Eat more meals together
Go on family outings more often
Play games
Have different toys than non-reading families

I doubt that reading by itself is the only factor involved with literacy. It is all so intertwined it would be hard to weed out all the extraneous variables.
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ginadc View Post
"the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."
Hmmm. If my children learn more from reading than they do from real experience I would find that extremely depressing. Our kids learned and retained a lot more about volcanoes by visiting Mt Saint Helens than from any book we have. They learn a lot more about animals at the zoo from the books that we have too. They learn way more about stability and physics playing with blocks. Not that they don't learn from books, but I actually see hands on activities, experience and human interaction having much more impact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ginadc View Post
Trelease also notes that the DoE's 1999 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that children who were read to at least three times a week were al most twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading.
Yes, it's probably true that children who come from families that read aloud do better on standardized tests. The school system and the tests are typically well suited to these children. Again though, I strongly suspect that the reading is an indicator, it's not purely causal.

I'm not opposed to reading to kids at all. I just think people consistently overestimate the causality of the relationship.

I also think we need to be prepared for the changing nature of literacy, owing mostly to technology. In 1985 and 1999 kids did not have access to multimedia resources like they do today for example. Kids considered in those reports were really from a different era.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:21 PM
 
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i think reading aloud to your child isn't any more important or influential than telling a story face to face or having conversations/little (spontaneous) lessons about daily events and happenings.

i think it's a great service to the kids to learn the attention span and imagination skills they get when they are looking into their parents' eyes and listening to a story and experiencing the pictures of the story as their mind hears it........
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:22 PM
 
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I guess we are part of the 52% who don't read every night. Now, I live in a house full of books and I work in a library but some nights we tell stories instead of reading them and sometimes we sing songs. I love books but there were times in my life they got between me and learning to interact as a human being. (I'm a nerd. I miss social cues. At 38 I'm finally catching on to this.)
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:37 PM
 
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I'm a devoted bookworm. I read all the time. My kids are read to all the time. BUT ... in a way I really don't see the big deal, IF those kids are receiving parental attention and stimulation by other means. Do their parents get down on the floor and play with them? Encourage their imaginations? Involve them in their everyday activities? Storytell without books? Read to them sometimes, if not every day? Give their children "undivided, loving attention" that has nothing to do with reading?

Like I said, I love books ... but I have a hard time with the notion that parents who don't are by definition deglecting a necessity. There are a lot of cultures in this world in which leisure reading is just not an element, in which children are still given rich, full upbringings.
I feel very much the same way. I found the quote in the OP offensive, to be honest. I'm a chronic bookworm - the one thing I really don't like about being home with kids all day is that I no longer have the block of time - bus commute - where I used to be able to sit down and just suck up pages and pages and pages with no interruptions.

That said, I rarely read to my children at bedtime. I currently read to dd - ds2, as well, if he's not napping - for about an hour most days. She wanted me to read her the Harry Potter series, so that's what I'm doing. That only started a few months ago, though. Before that, our reading time was really hit or miss. Some days, we'd read several kids books throughout the day, and on other days, we wouldn't read anything.

What really bothers me about the quote in the OP is this:
Quote:
That's 13 million children under 6 years old who are going to bed every night without a bedtime story — without the undivided, loving attention that comes with sharing a favorite book with their parents
First of all, Dr. Zuckerman makes that sound as though the 52 percent who aren't read to every night are never read to. That's not what it says. Second...my kids get lots of undivided, loving attention at bedtime. We just happen to have a family tradition, going back to my mom with us, of singing at bedtime, as opposed to reading. With ds1, I used to sing for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes every night. With dd and ds2, it's usually about 10-15. We also have individual bedtime rituals (not baths and such - a routine sequence of hugs, kisses, "goodnight", "sweet dreams", etc.) that we go through every night. The implication that children who aren't being read to each and every single night are being somehow neglected is really condescending.

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Old 01-29-2009, 04:38 PM
 
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First of all, Dr. Zuckerman makes that sound as though the 52 percent who aren't read to every night are never read to. That's not what it says. .
thanks for pointing that out. I was taking it that 52 percent are never read to on a regular basis, which is wrong.

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Old 01-29-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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I try to read to my son every day -in French and English. I think it's important (obviously), but I agree that it's not the only thing -it's important to just plain interact with your kids, spend time with then, introduce them to new things, new ideas. Books are a great way to do that.

My mom read to me and my brother at bedtime all the way through elementary school -it's one of my favourite memories.

Nova Scotia has a wonderful program called "Read to Me" (http://readtome.ca/) which started in 2002 and gives the parents of every baby born in-hospital a bag of childrens' books in either French or English (as a side-note I don't know about babies born at home -that would be interesting to find out). The bag has several books as well as pamphlets about the importance of reading to children. I thought it was a really wonderful gift and a sweet way to promote reading to children, especially in a province where 52% of the population has limited literacy.

I don't know if it would work as well in a country without free healthcare and hospital access, but that's the way it is here.
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:49 PM
 
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Having just skimmed over the whole thread, I'm a little disturbed at how many posters are talking about how sad they feel for these kids. I wasn't read to every day as a child. I actually don't remember being read to that much at all. Mom took us out every day, or close to it, for walks through the local parks and ravines. When we were home, we helped her bake or make root beer, or dill pickles or whatever. We had many family outings to the aquarium (my parents were members - their biggest non-necessary investment, as we were far from well-off). We spent hours in the yard and in the garden every spring and summer. As mentioned before, mom sang to us every night at bedtime. We had very full, active childhoods, with a ton of attention from both our parents (odd as it sounds, one of our favourite outings as kids was when dad took us with him to the landfill). Reading out loud was seldom part of it.

For all that, I was already reading when I started kindergarten. I don't remember how or why I taught myself, but I assume I just wanted to know why my mom, dad and older brother spent so much time with their noses buried in those silly books! Until I hit high school, and my emotional problems got the better of me, I was a star student in all the academic subjects, and considered anything less than 95% on a test to be just unacceptable. Throughout high school, despite being a "hood", I took a minimum of three novels a week out of the library and read them all - both librarians commented to me at one time or another that they wished they could read as fast as I do.

I really didn't suffer from the lack of out loud reading. Neither did either of my siblings. Books were a big deal in our house...just not in that particular way. (I actually wonder if mom was like me. I find it really frustrating to slow myself down enough to read out loud, and I don't enjoy books that much when I'm reading them out loud.) My mom and I are the major bookworms...but my dad, brother and sister all read for pleasure, as well. Actually, my brother is probably almost as much of a bookworm as mom and I, except that he's also driven to be more physically active (he was very hyperactive when he was young, and it still shows) and he's not a natural speed reader.

So...nobody really needs to feel sad for us, yk? We got lots and lots of undivided, loving attention, and we all love to read.

I hate the way this has evolved into some kind of ultimate litmus test for parents over the last few decades.

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Old 01-29-2009, 04:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by choli View Post
Parental functional illiteracy is one reason (not "excuse") that many children are not read to on a nightly basis. A parent may not feel like revealing that reason to you if they do not know you extremely well or trust you completely.

http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/628308

"In the US, 43% of the adult population is at the below or basic level for prose literacy"

So before you roll your eyes and judge the "bad parents" who don't read to their kids every night, remember that there can be reasons that are not apparent.

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 01-29-2009, 04:52 PM
 
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And as a homeschooler, my children are not read to daily.

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 01-29-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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I think the problem is that parents don't start when their baby is like 1 wk old, so then time just evolves and the kids don't develop much attn span for it and the parents just don't ever get around to it. The kid has lived thus long w/o it so why start now?

I'm a huge fan of starting as soon as possible after birth. DD loved looking at the pictures under 1 wk old. Just a few secs per page while I pointed out things to her. Now at 3 she's good for chapter books with little to no pictures - has a much longer attn span and much larger vocab than her peers.

Also it's important to know how to start - just spending 3-5 seconds per page pointing out something the child likes (animals, flowers etc for example "Here's a doggie. Doggie says woof woof, woof woof" and then on to the next page). Well before a year a child will sit thru board book stories and other short stories if one begins this way. It's also important to vary tone of voice and act dramatic and excited to keep little one's attention. "Oh wow! A cat! Cat says meow,meow"

I am not surprised so many kids are not read to. We are a media driven society not a print society anymore. It is appalling tho.
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Old 01-29-2009, 05:13 PM
 
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I hate the way this has evolved into some kind of ultimate litmus test for parents over the last few decades.
Well, it's an easy test to pass - quality of the books and reading does not matter, all you have to do is read to your child every night and you've passed the "test". Not very difficult, and you can pat yourself on the back and call yourself a good parent. Not many parenting issues are so cut and dried
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