Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's a Baby Kind of Day

At about 5 am this morning, I learned that across the country, my sister-in-law had finally given birth after 36 hours of labor and a c-section. Being an aunt for the first time I was, of course, thrilled. But what was my first real thought? That baby boy better be reading for a marathon reading session when I come to visit in a few weeks.

A funny first thought, I know, but what can I say? That's how it was with my 7-year-old sister, Brooke, when she was born. I read to her on her first day of life. We dove right into Harry Potter, and over the rest of that summer, we finished the book. I would hold her, rock in the chair, and read. As she fell asleep in my arms, I'd stop reading aloud and just look at her perfect little face, fingers, and toes. And then she'd wake up, totally pissed off that I stopped reading to her. Only when I started again did she calm down. It didn't occur to me to try to wean her off of it because I was overjoyed that she loved books without even knowing what they were. To this day, I'm still the one who reads her books before bed when I visit (same with my 6-year-old sister, Gillian), and she even gave me a bit of a lecture recently about how I need to start writing again.

All this said, I couldn't believe it when I read this headline on The Guardian's website today: Two-thirds of parents 'never read to their babies.'

Now, let me just say, what?! I mean, WHAT?! I'm in shock that a statistic like that could actually be accurate, but here's what the article had to say:

Nearly two-thirds of parents never read to their babies and are therefore missing out on a crucial window for their children's language development, according to new research. 
The survey, carried out on more than 500 parents of babies by ICM and the Fatherhood Institute on behalf of the charity Booktrust, found that 64% of parents were not reading with their babies at seven months, and that 57% did not own a single book until they received their pack of free titles from Booktrust's Bookstart programme. Three-quarters of parents said they began sharing books with their babies as soon as they received their free Bookstart books.
Bookstart's chief executive Viv Bird called the findings "worrying", as "the enjoyable routine of sharing books, stories, songs and rhymes with babies is vital in building pre-literacy skills as well as providing important 'cuddle' time". Leaving reading with children until later in their lives means they are "missing out on a crucial window for language development," said Booktrust, which is now working with health professionals to explore ways of reaching families at an even earlier age.
Booktrust gives free books to almost 3 million children a year in the UK, with 30m titles given away by Bookstart since 1992 to promote the benefits of reading aloud to young children. The government-funded charity is fighting for its survival, having weathered a 50% cut last year and a 20% cut in 2012. It is now "urgently" seeking to sustain its grant of £6m a year, with its current Department for Education funding contract running only until the end of March 2013. "For every £1 the state invests, Bookstart turns a total £25 of value to society," the charity said. "Without ongoing funding from government, [we] face the possibility of having to reduce or cut key services and children missing out on the joys of sharing books."
Former children's laureate Michael Rosen threw his support behind the Bookstart programme, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week with National Bookstart Week. "We now know that if we share books with children right from the time they are babies, we are helping them enormously to understand the world," he said. "It's all about looking, listening and talking. Bookstart offers the perfect way in: free books in your hand with all sorts of great suggestions about keeping up the habit of sharing books with our children. It's a great scheme."

See the original post HERE

Granted these numbers seem to be specifically dealing with the UK, it's astounding that after all the research about reading and a child's development, so many parents still don't take the time to read aloud to their children. I don't think I even know a parent who doesn't read to his or her kids. And thank god for that because I might have to punch them in the face.  Hopefully Bookstart here will start changing these statistics so I don't have to beat up everyone under the sun.

Just read to your kids, folks. It not only expands their mind, but it encourages imagination and creativity, and can even create a different kind of bond between you and your child. I know I don't have any kids, so I probably shouldn't talk, but I do have sisters, and without my reading to them the way I have their whole lives, I am certain we wouldn't have the same amazing relationship we do now.

1 comment:

  1. This is the reason I'm determined to maintain my reputation as the crazy aunt who only gifts books to her nephews.

    Congrats again on becoming an aunt!