March is officially National Reading Awareness Month. At Lexercise, where every month is reading awareness month, we’re happy to note this public celebration of reading. The topic of reading, and particularly reading aloud, is one we return to again and again in our posts.
We were thrilled when the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2014 took an official stance on the subject of reading aloud and introduced a new campaign: Read Aloud 15 MINUTES. The program draws parallels between nourishment of the body and nourishment of the brain. Pediatricians began to encourage parents to read “together as a daily fun family activity” from the child’s infancy.
With the enthusiastic response of doctors, libraries, bookstores, authors, and families, the program continues. For March 2021, the Read Aloud 15 Minutes campaign challenges families to read aloud together for 21 days in a row, make and post photos or short videos, and challenge friends to do the same.
Reading – and reading aloud – is informative and fun and encourages family closeness, but it is much more than that. In her fascinating article in Inc., “This Is How Reading Rewires Your Brain, According to Neuroscience,” Jessica Stillman points out that reading “actually changes the way your brain works” and calls reading “an empathy workout.” (Importantly, she points out that the quick-swipe reading we do on our devices does not count!)
For families with children who struggle to read, write or spell, whether or not they have been diagnosed with dyslexia or another language-processing disorder, reading aloud supports the important work of critical thinking and vocabulary building. As The Ohio State University demonstrated in a 2019 study, “Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to.”
For more suggestions on reading aloud, see Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook, now in its eighth edition. If your child struggles to read, write, or spell, learn more about the Lexercise structured literacy curriculum, try our online games, and> contact us if you have questions.
Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.