AMES, Iowa – Throughout March, Read Across Iowa will bring the joy of reading to children of all ages. Agriculturally themed Read Across Iowa events will be held across the state and will feature books and materials about agriculture that will appeal to all readers, according to Mackenzie Johnson, human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Read Across Iowa is a collaborative effort of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation, ISU Extension and Outreach, Iowa 4-H Youth Development and the Iowa State Education Association.
“Reading to children and having books in the home is one of the strongest predictors of school success,” said Johnson, who specializes in family wellbeing.
“When you read with children, you are making an investment. Early reading and talking with children gives them a strong start and a life-long return,” Johnson said.
“Reading to children just 20 minutes a day adds up to nearly 2 million words that they will hear per year,” Johnson said. “The more words that children hear, the more words they are able to learn.”
Scholastic, the long-time children’s book publisher and provider of literacy curricula, has reported that children learn 4,000 to 12,000 words per year through reading. Children who read 3,000 words a day score in the top 2% on achievement tests.
Researchers with the University of Sussex estimate reading can reduce stress up to 68%, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that proficient readers are 2.5 times more likely to have a well-paying job.
Reading Is Fundamental, a nonprofit children's literacy organization in the United States, surveyed approximately 1,000 teachers, parents and caregivers to understand their concerns around the impacts of COVID-19 on children’s literacy development. These survey findings support the data indicating that there is an urgent need to address early literacy.
Reading Is Fundamental has reported that educators and caregivers are deeply concerned about the negative impact of COVID-19 on children’s reading skills:
- 94% felt it was critical to get books in the hands of children.
- 96% are concerned or very concerned about how to motivate students to read during this time, and felt parents and educators need resources to support reading motivation.
- 96% stated it is important or highly important to get resources to help parents to engage children in reading at home.
“When adults read with children, they provide an opportunity to practice word reading and interaction with printed text around letters and sounds. They also share ‘book-language,’ which is higher in sentence complexity and academic content vocabulary than everyday conversations and oral storytelling,” Johnson said.
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