Reading to Children

I am an English teacher who truly believes in the power and importance of language and the value of reading!!!  But I am definitely not alone…not by a long shot!

The value of reading, no matter what the material, has been supported by huge amounts of research. This research includes the value of reading to or with young children to provide them with the strongest foundation there is for academic success which then leads to personal success as adults.

Neil Gaiman, a highly praised and award-winning writer of a wide spectrum of work from science fiction and fantasy to picture books for young children, stated: “The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.”

This quote from Mr. Gaiman is from a lecture he delivered to a charity group from the United Kingdom called the Reading Agency whose mission is to celebrate and promote reading. A more complete version of this terrific lecture can be read by clicking here.  In Mr. Gaiman’s lecture, he quotes the brilliant scientist Albert Einstein who stated: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Recently, in the Albany Times Union, an article focused on the work of a local woman named Noelene Smith who created a program called the Baby Institute that offers a nine-week training program to parents of young children living in some of the more impoverished areas of Albany. The goal of the program according to Ms. Smith is “about getting parents to realize that they’re a child’s first teacher. …We’re trying to teach parents that they should be focusing on building literacy. …We’re not blaming parents. …We’re acknowledging that they don’t know what they don’t know.”

Albany Medical Center has recently formed a four-year partnership with the Baby Institute to offer financial and administrative support, and the Baby Institute also offers a summer camp at the Ida Yarbrough Homes in downtown Albany off of Pearl Street.

In nearby Amsterdam, one of Maria College’s past instructors, Sister Joan Mary Hartigan, CSJ, who now is the Vice President of Mission at St. Mary’s Hospital, recently received a grant to start a reading program in the pediatrics unit of the hospital. The grant came from the organization called Reach Out and Read whose powerful mission is to give “young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.”

Take note future Maria College nurses—reading can be a powerful part of your care to young children!

Readers of this blog, do you remember one of your favorite childhood books? Please share!

Until next time…


  • Comment:

    Prescribing reading to children is an evidence based method of breaking the cycle of poverty. Anne, thank you for writing this super blog and giving Reach out and read a kudos. Maria College is a wonderful, wonderful college and you are one of the lights that makes it so.

    Submitted by Joan Mary Harti on

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