Books Build Brains
The greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five. In fact, by age 3, roughly 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed. Given the course of brain development, it is not surprising that young children who are exposed to certain early language and literacy experiences usually prove to be good readers later. Just as a child develops language skills long before being able to speak, the child also develops literacy skills long before being able to read.
National Research Council. (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Access to books and educational material is the single biggest barrier to literacy development in the United States and beyond. If we can solve the problem of access, we will be well on the road to realizing educational parity – a goal which has eluded this country for generations.
Neuman, Susan B. and Moland, Naomi. (2016) Book Deserts: The Consequences of Income Segregation on Children’s Access to Print. Urban Education (1-22) Sage Publications.
Children growing up in homes with at least twenty books get three years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class.
Evans, M. D., Kelley, J., Sikora, J., & Treiman, D. J. (2010). Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 28(2), 171-197.
Parents Make the Difference
Parent involvement is the number one predictor of early literacy success and future academic achievement for children.
Lin, Qiuyun (2003). Parent Involvement and Early Literacy. Family Involvement Research Digests. Harvard Family Research Project.
Families are their children’s first and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers. Strong family engagement is central – not supplemental – to a healthy childhood.
(US DHHS) US Department of Health and Human Services, US Department of Education (2016) Policy Statement on Family Engagement from the Early Years to the Early Grades.
Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents start reading to their children at birth.
Council on Early Childhood (2014) Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice.
Learning Happens Everywhere
Learning can happen everywhere when communities transform spaces into informal learning spaces with access to free books and education resources — in shops, health clinics, even in laundromats.
Neuman SB, Moland N. Book Deserts: The Consequences of Income Segregation on Children’s Access to Print. Urban Education. 2019;54(1):126-147.
The role of neighborhoods and communities to address disparities in learning opportunities is central to providing every child with the resources, tools, and skills to learn and flourish.
Hopson R. Why Are Studies of Neighborhoods and Communities Central to Education Policy and Reform? Urban Education. 2014;49(8):992-995.
When children are exposed to language in real-life settings surrounded by others with whom to interact, their literacy thrives.
Neuman, S. B., & Bredekamp, S. (2000). ‘Becoming a reader: A developmentally appropriate approach’ In D. S. Strickland (Ed.) Beginning reading and writing, New York: Columbia University (pp. 22-34).Neumann, M., Hood, M., Ford, R., & Neumann, D. (2012). The Role of Environmental Print in Emergent Literacy, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 12(3), 231-258.