What 15 minutes a day can do

Published 8:45 pm Monday, March 9, 2015

March is Reading Awareness Month. But virtue of reading today’s edition of the Washington Daily News, it can be surmised that any person reading it likes to read. It can also be assumed that the purpose of Reading Awareness Month is not aimed at readers.

One would be wrong to assume that, however. While Reading Awareness Month is not aimed at long established readers, it is, instead, aimed at the newest generation — the children of established readers. Research has shown that there is no better way to prepare a child for a lifetime of learning than reading aloud. That’s where Reading Awareness Month applies to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings and anyone else in the close circle of a given family.

More than one in three children attend their first day of kindergarten unprepared to embark on their career in learning. Their vocabulary is limited. Their exposure to words and outside experiences is limited. No one has established in them the idea that reading and learning is not only important, but critical to their development. These children start with a deficit and if a child is not reading at grade level by the end of first grade, there’s almost a 90 percent chance he or she will not be reading at grade level at the end of fourth grade. From there it can be extrapolated that a child, then an adult, may never master the art of reading, which could affect all aspects of a person’s life, especially when it comes to future employment.

This is where adults can step in. Less than 50 percent of children in the U.S. are read to each day, a statistic that needs to change. Reading to a child for only 15 minutes a day vastly improves his or her vocabulary, phonics, familiarity with the written word, comprehension and the development of language skills.

It’s been said that a child’s future success can be determined by how many words that child knows the day he or she starts kindergarten. Reading Awareness Month — this month — is the ideal time to start a new habit: reading aloud.

Fifteen minutes a day can make that much of a difference.