Articles about reading

The benefits of developing reading skills from a young age

Jan 2017

Margaret Fuller, born in 1810, was an American journalist and critic. She once said the now famous line: "Today a reader, tomorrow a leader".

Fuller was a woman who led by example as, at the tender age of 30, she was considered the best-read person in New England, USA.

Reading opens doors to the universe, and beyond; the younger a reader is, the more doors it can open.

Through reading we are able to learn an incredible amount and gain insight into so many different worlds, actions and motivations. There are many benefits to developing reading skills from a young age, here are just a few:

Broadening knowledge
Children's books may be predominately picture-based and contain only a small amount of words, however, the information they contain is invaluable to a child's development.These books can teach young children important lessons about family, friendship, growing up, and much more. They often share information about nature, animals, other cultures, and the world. Without realising it, a young reader is broadening their knowledge by reading about the fictional characters within their stories. They don't need to read 1,000-page novels to learn something significant; a life lesson can be learnt from any book, regardless of the word count.

Improving communication skills
As children learn to read, their vocabulary expands and they gain a greater understanding of the meaning of words. This enables a child to be more expressive when they speak, and to use a broad range of words to share what they're thinking about.

Children can also learn how to communicate with others through the dialogue they read in their books. The wonderful thing about stories is they provide children with tools to use in their own lives, whether this is learning how to communicate with their friends or with other people they meet. Books can also teach etiquette, politeness, and friendliness in conversation.

Developing confidence and independence
As a child's reading skills develop, they in turn grow in confidence and independence as they tackle unknown words on their own. Once they have a base knowledge of words, spelling, pronunciation and grammar, they will feel more confident to learn new vocabulary alone using the knowledge they have previously acquired.

A young reader develops the tools to decipher unknown words and to associate meaning and correct pronunciation to them, as they will see patterns in the words they read in books. With these tools they will be able to do all this independently, only turning to their parent for help when they have exhausted their own tools.

Enabling achievement in other subjects
If a child can read a book they are also able to read maths problems, questions in tests, and any other text they may face at school (and elsewhere).

Strong reading skills, the ability to understand a paragraph of text, and a good grasp of grammar and punctuation helps a young child to excel across the board, and they face one less hurdle when completing any school work.

Margaret Fuller's belief in the power of reading is something we share at Kumon. Our English programme is suitable for children and young people of all ages and abilities, and covers basic word building all the way up to critiquing advanced texts.

Throughout the English programme our students have the opportunity to study a broad range of books; it aims to develop their ability to read and understand a variety of texts, and to nurture a life-long love of reading.

Our students, both English and maths, have access to the Kumon Recommended Reading List (RRL), and are encouraged to use it. The RRL is a compilation of 380 books that cover a broad range of genres, writing styles, and subjects. With so many to choose from, the RRL is certain to contain a selection of books that are perfect for each individual child.

Encouraging young children to engage with reading will help them to develop into confident, independent learners. We encourage children to start to read from a young age, after all, as Margaret Fuller said: "If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it."