[ST. AUGUSTINE RECORD] Can You Help Open A Child’s Mind?

We here at The Record have an admittedly vested interest in folks who read. So, with that disclaimer aside, we’d like to take a moment to talk about reading — particularly as it applies to little ones.

An employee shared a story a week or so ago about a family member in her mid-60s who suffered a bad fall. She was knocked unconscious. She subsequently began to suffer memory loss, headaches and shaking. Turns out she had suffered a Grade 3 concussion — the most critical level. She was ordered to stay home for six weeks, minimum, and was not to use a computer, watch television or to read anything.

Her 6-year-old granddaughter is a bright child, but was reading two grade levels below where she should be.

The grandmother had the child come over after school and read to her. First, just the mail; as the weeks went on, books. After the six weeks, Abby was retested at school and had nearly reached her expected level of competency. Six weeks of reading trumped years of parental laziness. Bonus — Abby likes to read now. She’s proud. She shows it off.

Being in the business we’re in we’ve seen hundreds of stories about locals who have overcome severe challenges — crippling accidents, horrible injuries, etc. — where they’ve come out on top.

But it’s difficult to imagine how anyone these days can fully function in society or completely overcome the inability to read.

What we sometimes forget is reading always begins, for children, by listening. They can’t pick up a book and read it themselves, but reading to a young child develops what the scientific folks call “word-sound awareness.” It’s the most potent predictor of reading success down the road. Reading aloud to children is proven to jump-start language development even before they begin talking.

Reading to a child is also among the better activities available to stimulate cognitive skills, curiosity and motivation.

Reading aloud to a child is an important job. It can also be a nice thing to do.

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program need local volunteers for their Reading Pals programs. ELC Reading Pals are matched with preschool centers. The RSVP program targets more at-risk groups in Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten and Head Start classrooms.

Read more at: St. Augustine Record

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida