Books are like passports that open up new worlds for children. There is little debating the fact that, children who are read to at home have a higher success rate at school. Reading to young children promotes language acquisition, literacy development and achievement in reading comprehension, and overall success in school. For young children (ages 3-5), being read aloud to daily by a family member is one of the indicators of success.
A recent GOOD article via this Salon article questioned whether just having lots of books in a house makes a difference in children's performance in school. This seems to be the case: "Children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books."
The facts from the National Education Association substantiate that young children who are read to, have a heads-up when they start school over children who are not. Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times a week by a family member recognized all the letters of the alphabet. Children who were read to frequently are more likely to count to 20, or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%), write their own names (54% vs. 40%), and read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%). Unfortunately, these numbers are significantly lower for children in families with incomes below the poverty line, as they are less likely to be read to aloud to and have bookshelves filled with books.
As a teacher who has conducted hundred's of parent/teacher conferences, when I asked parents if they thought reading to their kids every day made a difference in their child's learning, there was generally a resounding "yes". But, for some, when we started to discuss their child's reading skills, often even the most well-meaning parent would mention that they were either too busy to read to their child, or they couldn't afford to buy books. While there is no shining substitute for reading to a child, there are ways to encourage reading and a love of reading. Even if you are too busy to read to your child or unable to buy books, check out the ways you can encourage your kids to read.