The Joy of Reading for our Youngest Learners

December 2, 2020

As we head into the winter months, some parents may cherish the thought of snuggling up with their child and reading a fun book together. This is a great idea because reading with your child for 15–20 minutes a day not only helps them develop emergent/early literacy skills (print awareness, sound awareness, oral language) but also builds important cognitive skills like working memory and attention.

Parents play an incredibly important role as a child’s first teacher. As children learn to read, parents can support and nurture a positive relationship with reading. Since we are now spending more time at home with our families, why not have your child select a book they love for you to read together?

According to new research, parents are concerned about their children falling behind due to the pandemic. Both the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy and the Council for Professional Recognition support reading with your child each day. Books introduce children to different types of people and places, new ideas and possibilities, expand their vocabulary breadth and depth and stimulate their curiosity and imagination. The time we spend reading with our children is special, whether we’re reading time-tested stories or a trendy, new book. Consider daily activities to help promote your child’s reading.

“All educators who earn the CDA® learn about how children learn to read,” said Dr. Calvin E. Moore, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Council for Professional Recognition. “The skills and content knowledge these educators learn is crucial in helping our youngest children learn to read. And for parents, it is not always about reading an actual book. You could be in the kitchen reading a recipe with them as you are cooking together. Helping them to build their love of reading is so important.”

iStock-1142103296“The Rollins Center is dedicated to development of literacy and the construction of the reading brain from the last trimester through 3rd grade – for every child,” said Dr. Ryan Lee-James, Director, Rollins Center for Language & Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School. “Learning begins at home during those first few years of life. Early childhood educators are responsible for helping families understand and support the home–school connection, which we know sets the stage for success for years to come.”

A few tips to consider for reading with your young child:

  • Books that focus on real life (e.g., animals, weather, seasons, vehicles).
  • Choose stories with diverse characters, race, and gender for example.
  • Books that transition clearly through stages, beginning, middle and the end.
  • Stories with funny sounding words.
  • Books that can be read in 5–10 minutes.
  • A story that has a happy ending.
  • Avoid read stories that include behaviors you do not want your child to imitate.

Picture books without words are also a valuable learning experience for reading readiness. This is a great way to stimulate and engage with your child as they progress during their vital brain development years.

For more information about the Rollins Center’s resources for families, visit


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