This article may contain affiliate links.

“Reading to your child is one of the most important language development activities you can do. I recommend that you read to your child daily.”  
~ Diane Bahr, MS., CCC-SLP

Do you know that more than 1/3 of US kids enter kindergarten lacking basic language skills?  This lack of basic skills impacts early literacy as this percentage of kids do not recognize the letters of the alphabet and that books read from left to right.  This impacts a child’s ability to comprehend and tell stories.

Immunize Against Illiteracy

Before kids enter kindergarten, literary interventions have the most dramatic impact.  Reach Out and Read promotes early literacy and school readiness with a research-tested, evidence-based model that’s proven to help children develop the language skills they will need to learn to read and succeed in school.

Reach Out and Read Facts

• Children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule.
• Reading aloud to young children is not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory.
• Early language skills are based primarily on language exposure – resulting from parents and other adults talking to young children.
• Research shows that the more words parents use when speaking to an 8-month-old infant, the greater the size of their child’s vocabulary at age 3.
• Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Children’s books actually contain 50% more rare words than primetime television or even college students conversations.
• The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.

Recordable Story Books
Hallmark has put together an incredible product incorporating all time favorite children’s stories, Recordable Story Books. There are so many wonderful ways you can use a recordable storybook.

1) Have a loved one like a grand parent record themselves reading the story.
2) Have your favorite teacher record themselves reading the story.
3) Select a few favorites and record your own voice reading the story.

When you are making dinner, doing laundry or working late, your child can feel connected to you by listening to your voice read the story. All three options above encourage literacy and language development.

I reached out to Speech-Language Pathologist, Diane Bahr, for her views on early literacy and language development along with the use of recordable story books.  Author of [easyazon-link asin=”1935567209″ locale=”us”]Nobody Ever Told Me (or my Mother) That!: Everything from Bottles and Breathing to Healthy Speech Development[/easyazon-link], Diane drove home the importance of reading to your children daily and recordable story books can indeed fill a gap and foster the love of reading.

Additional Insights from Diane
Babies are listening to the sounds of language from birth. At one-month of age they become quiet when hearing the human voice and they get vocal when hearing mom’s voice. They can even match voice pitch and duration (length). At two to three-months, babies vocalize in response to speech and other sounds. By three to four months, they are listening to speech addressed to them and begin to play games of facial expression and body language. Between four and six months babies look where a parent is looking, including at objects such as books. This is the time to begin looking at books with your baby. Between six and eight months, babies will look at, point to, and reach for books if given the opportunity. Between nine and twelve months babies are pros at looking at books with others. Interactions with books encourage joint attention, focus, and concentration. These are important learning skills used throughout life. During book reading, parents help their children develop vocabulary and other language skills used in later academics. Book reading also provides time for parent-child bonding. It is a natural process where parents can focus on language development and interaction.

Don’t Forget Sequencing Skills
Speech and Reading Go Together
  • Sequencing is the process of putting events, ideas, or objects in a logical order.
  • Having this skill allows children to see the relationships between cause and effect and actions and consequences.
  • Beginning readers need the skill in order to recognize small differences in the letter order of the words.
  • Encourage children to orally tell the story as they put pictures in order.
  • Use the words, “first, next. last” to reinforce sequencing.
  • The importance of understanding a beginning, middle and an ending is essential when writing stories.

Sequencing Side Note 
Enhancement and strengthening sequencing skills is not only is essential in writing stories, it is essential in the behavioral arena. If a child does not grasp the concept of cause and effect or that for every action there is a consequence, whether positive or negative, then they will get stuck in a behavioral pattern. “Unstick” these children by working on these concepts outside of the behavior. Once they grasp the concept, bring it into the behavioral arena.

Diane’s Tips to Encourage Good Vocal and Speech Development from Birth 

  1. Give your child plenty of opportunities to interact and vocalize with you
  2. Only use a pacifier for calming allowing for your baby to play with vocalization
  3. Take turns with vocalization.  When your baby vocalizes, listen.  Then talk to your baby.  Wait for your baby to vocalize.  Pretend to have a conversation.
  4. Imitate your baby, following your baby’s lead.
  5. Make positive statements to your baby during pretend conversations as this encourages increased vocalizations.
  6. At 6 months, introduce pictures to your child. Name the pictures and talk about them to your baby.  Ask “Where is the cow?”

Within Diane’s book, you will find a comprehensive checklist for Speech and Communication Development Up to 3 Years of Age to help you discover your child’s entire communication development picture.

Clearly, language development begins at birth.  Reading is an integral component to the development of language.  Early literacy development programs help to facilitate the basic language skills needed for independent reading but also help develop receptive and expressive language skills.  Reading to your child early on fosters receptive language skills through listening and understanding the sequence of a story and in turn helps child develop the tools for expressive language.

Previous articleDevelop Listening Skills With the Basics: Sound Localization
Next articleHow-To Tips: Pay Attention in School

Using her background in health care administration, education and marketing, Tiffani created Special-Ism, an educational resource for parents, teachers, and clinicians of children with various isms. Currently, Tiffani serves as the Editorial Director at Special-Ism, focusing on solutions to the isms for all children at home, in the classroom and community.