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Improving Childhood Literacy: Read Early, Read Aloud and Read Often

November 11, 2010

LOS ANGELES - Read early, read aloud and read often - doing so will help improve childhood literacy in California. That's the goal of a new campaign sponsored by the First 5 Commissions of Southern California.

Linda Clinard, who holds a doctorate in education and is author of "Family Time Reading Fun," says reading to children as early as at birth will provide long-term benefits for a child's academic achievement. She adds that it's not just the words they hear, but the tone that is important, as well.

"You put these books in front of little infants' eyes, especially if they have pictures of real babies or real animals in them, and they hear you make the sounds and have fun interaction. The children start to interact with language at birth - it's amazing."

The campaign hopes to close the childhood literacy gap, Clinard explains. A survey from the Pearson Foundation has found that children from low-income communities often enter kindergarten without basic early literacy skills, and if they enter the school system behind their more affluent peers, many never catch up.

Intervening earlier in life will have a lifelong impact for everyone, she adds.

"Our nation, economically, needs people who are literate - not just able to read and write, but able to understand the language of subjects and business and other areas they're entering."

The 4th annual "Read Early, Read Aloud" campaign takes place throughout the month of November. First 5 Commissions in eight different counties are teaming up with county and local libraries to present group story times, giveaways, library card signs-ups and more, Clinard says.

"I'm so excited that these counties have collaborated to recognize that we need to reach out together to our communities. And our communities are all diverse - economically, linguistically and in many other ways."

More information is available at www.ReadEarlyReadAloud.org.


Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA