Why reading aloud means the world to children

For 10 years, World Read Aloud Day has drawn global attention to the importance of reading to children and sharing stories. Celebrated on February 1 this year, it is well worth taking time to consider the countless benefits of this activity and mull over some staggering statistics about literacy.

Approximately 758-million people across the globe cannot read. According to South African government statistics, our youth literacy rate for those aged 15 to 34 is at over 90%, and adult literacy (ages 35 to 64) is at just under 80%.

But, although 90% of children may be able to read, the most daunting statistic was revealed by the Progress In International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) in 2016, which shows that an alarming 78% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning in any language.

Until Grade 4 a child learns to read. From Grade 4 a child reads to learn, which is why understanding what one is reading becomes more important.

The Read Educational Trust is all too aware of the power of literacy and, as a non-profit organisation, focuses on promoting literacy across South Africa. Of tantamount importance is the enjoyment of reading; a responsibility that not only rests on the shoulders of educators but also falls on parents.

For those of us blessed with a parent who read aloud to us, we view it as a treasured, time-honoured tradition; one that surely had a hand in helping us to reach our full potential in later years.

Reading aloud is a great way of connecting with little ones. Which toddler doesn’t love sitting on their parent’s lap and hearing that beloved voice reading aloud to them?

Along with the benefit of spending regular time with your children, this activity supports healthy brain development and forms a priceless foundation for success at school and on the journey of life.

Reading aloud is invaluable for language development and promoting early literacy skills such as book handling and naming, understanding how stories work, recognising sounds and letters, expanding vocabulary and honing listening skills.

Reading aloud also boosts confidence, helps children to cope better with anxiety, develops memory and expands their worlds.

Sadly, surveys show that only half of the parents read to their kids daily, and fewer than 10% of parents read to their children from infancy.

Among various tools promoted and disseminated by Read, the read-aloud magic box sets are vital in encouraging reading-aloud, and all the benefits this activity holds.

Each of the three box sets contains 12 beautifully designed books filled with enchanting, adventure-filled stories set in Africa. These stories revolve around children and animals discovering the world in which they live.

Set A is aimed at children aged 4 to 7; Set B is suited to children aged 5 to 8 and Set C is for children aged 6 to 9. All three sets are available online at www.thereadshop.co.za an all profits go towards promoting literacy.

For more information, visit www.read.org.za

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