By: Tracy Walter
When you hear the word “literacy”, what do you think? Do you think of literacy for children, in adults or does it make you think of literacy throughout a community?
Building literacy in young children is important for brain and vocabulary development as they become readers. Good literacy starts at home, even before birth, but it doesn’t stop there. Becoming readers help children as they grow to be active citizens in their community. Supporting children through literacy is not just the job of the parents or the school, but also the community at large.
As parents and caregivers, having good conversations and reading to a child in utero is important in brain development. As a child grows and may be enrolled in an early learning center and school, the role of the teachers and families become a partnership in raising the child into a lifelong reader. Even more than the family and teachers, the community plays an important part in the literacy development of children. The saying It takes a village to raise a child is true in the fact that literacy development in children is not just a job of the family, school or community separately, but a partnership of all providing support to one other as the child grows.
Families are the first teachers in the lives of children to help them learn the importance of literacy. Once a child begins in an early learning center and school, the caregivers can provide reinforcement of early literacy skills outside of school in support of their learning while in school. In the community, doctor office, dentist offices, even auto repair lobbies, laundry mats and so many more can be a support to the literacy development as well. They can provide support by having children’s books, bright signs, and posters in their offices and waiting rooms to help in the literacy development of children and reinforce the importance of reading.
There are many benefits of early literacy, family literacy, and the support system created within schools and communities. These benefits include:
- Reading aloud to children every day puts them almost a year ahead of children who don’t receive daily read aloud time.
- Reading aloud to children have benefits on brain development and vocabulary acquisition.
- There is a direct link between literacy and positive self-image.
- Proficient literacy raises a community of active and empowered citizens.
- Reading leads to greater self-reliance and civic engagement.
A challenge for all who are reading this is to think about what you can do to help support literacy development in young children, older children, and adults within your home and community.
National Literacy Day is coming soon! You can be involved if you read to a child, donate to a local library, give books to local offices to have in their waiting rooms and lobbies, or just have a conversation with a young child to help with vocabulary development. Every little bit helps to increase literacy among individuals. Help celebrate National Literacy Day on September 8th by getting involved.
Proof of benefits of reading to children By John Elder (2013)
Yi-Chin Lan received her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin.
Using the Village to Raise a Reader
DONNA C. CELANO SUSAN B. NEUMAN