EXCERPT FROM AN ARTICLE BY By Elliott D. Landau
Few activities create a warmer relationship between child and grown-up than reading aloud. A child finds it very pleasing to be read to and to have the undivided attention of an adult. When an adult reads aloud to a child, he soon understands what delight and joy it gives the child. And if the adult is completely honest, he will admit he enjoys it just as much himself. Perhaps this is the first reason why parents should be concerned about their child’s reading experiences.
Reading is not an antidote for thwarting social illness. It is not a tool with which to conquer space. It is not a thing we do to children. A child needs to be plunged into the world of literature in order to experience sound, emotion, and self. There is a certain urgency in young parents cuddling their children in the first year of life and sharing with them the cadence of Mother Goose rhymes, the rhythm of simple poetry, and the vigor of prose. To what end? Surely not to give them instruction.
It is true that the experience of hearing good literature, of seeing one’s parents read, of participating in family-in-the-round creative dramatic activities based on “Henny-Penny” or “Jack Be Nimble” will go a long way toward giving children a head start in learning to read.
But the primary purpose of reading to your child early in his life is not to provide quantities of anything for his future learning; rather, it is to insure a quality experience in your earliest parent-child relationships. The fact that he will be preparing himself for the later discipline of having to read is secondary. Reading experiences for children in the first three years of their lives must not be for instructive purposes; they should be for the opportunity of mother, father, and child’s sharing time, sound, and delight with one another.