2. Early Reading and Literacy Skills

Rx for Reading provides books that enrich the reading experiences of children and youth of all ages, including the youngest readers. A child’s literacy begins almost from birth. Research suggests that regularly seeing and hearing books read aloud optimizes brain development and especially language acquisition in infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children (Rich). Because the most significant brain development in a person’s life occurs between birth and age three, the American Pediatric Association now prescribes consistent reading as part of a healthy early childhood. Early engagement with books prepares children specifically for reading in a number of ways. First, children’s books expose children to a wider-ranging and often more sophisticated vocabulary than they are likely to hear from the spoken language of parents and other caregivers alone (Bridges; Wong). Second, in addition to a wider vocabulary, children who encounter more books develop “imaginative richness” and “wide horizons,” giving them context and interpretive skills that they can use to make sense of what they read in grade school (Evans, et al.). Third, hearing books read aloud familiarizes young children with the basic elements of written language: children who are regularly read to at home are more likely to be able to count, recognize letters of the alphabet, write their names, and read or pretend to read on their own before kindergarten (National Education Association). Finally, when parents and other caregivers model a positive attitude toward reading and bond with children by making reading creative and playful, they instill in children a lifelong motivation to read (U.S. Department of Education).

Bibliography and Recommended Reading