By Julie Douglas
Earlier this month I attended my daughter’s graduation from Loyola University-Chicago. The Dean began the Convocation by requesting that the graduates acknowledge their parents’ role in their success. He reminded them that we, the parents, had most likely gotten the students started on this educational journey by doing the one thing that was so vital to their learning….we read to them when they were very young.
The International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children would undoubtedly agree with Dean Fennell. In a joint statement, IRA and NAEYC are encouraging parents to read and reread stories to preschoolers, engage children in conversation and express interest in what is being said, and to provide a "print-rich" environment. By doing so, a parent is helping a child lay a solid foundation on which all other learning can be built.
Our READ from the START Discussion Leaders, and our Read First! communities share this same message with parents and caregivers. RFTS parents are letting us know that RFTS has changed the way they view their role in their child’s development.
"At the second session parents were asked if they had read the books from the first night to their child. Several parents responded that for the first time they had a lot of fun reading to their kids!" ~RFTS Discussion Leader, Steele
"This program was great for rural areas in which people have limited resources to get books." ~parent, Kennett
"I learned that every story gives you the chance to talk about and share experiences with one another." ~parent, Lexington
"I learned that reading to a child is the best thing you can do for them." ~parent, Cairo
On graduation day, the Dean closed by challenging the graduates to use their gifts and talents to enrich the lives of others. The motto Preparing people to lead extraordinary lives can be seen all over campus. As I reflected on the drive home, it occurred to me that doing extraordinary things doesn't necessarily have to be flashy or newsworthy. The simplest act - telling a story or reading a book to a child - can have a profound impact.
Be extraordinary. Read to a child.
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