The importance of developing reading skills from the earliest opportunity

Reading skills are critical for children's development, and consecutive studies have shown a link between competency in reading and overall attainment.

According to a report entitled Reading for Change, Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): "Reading for pleasure is more important for children's educational success than their family's socio-economic status."

Below are some other key benefits of engaging children in reading from the earliest opportunity.

Reading is key for future success
By supporting children to read in their leisure time at every age, by looking at reading through picture or chapter books for example, parents can help to ensure that children are equipped with the necessary skills to succeed in later life.

The Rose Review (2008), an Independent Review of the Primary School Curriculum, argued that: "A deep engagement with storytelling and great literature link directly to emotional development in primary children."

A study by the National Literacy Trust also showed that the number of children who read above the expected level for their age and have books of their own is 80%. In contrast, the figure for those with children who don't have their own books and read below their expected level is 58%.

This correlation between an appreciation for books and reading levels demonstrates the importance of children gaining exposure to texts at a young age.

Reading helps to develop a number of skills
In To read or not to read (2007), the National Endowment for the Arts stated that: "Leisure reading makes students more articulate, develops higher order reasoning, and promotes critical thinking."

Once children have mastered the ability to read they will be able to have access to a wider breadth of language that they can use in their oral and written communications.

As children read they will need to process information about character, themes and plot and decode words, all of which will help develop their comprehension skills.

The government's DirectGov websites offer the following tips on how parents can help to develop reading skills at an early age.

  • spend a few minutes a day telling stories and reading together, and make it fun by choosing books you both enjoy

  • talk about the pictures and characters in the books and make up your own stories

  • read as you walk down the street and round the shops, pointing out signs and words and talking about them

  • purchase books as presents and join a local library


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