Northwest NEWS

December 7, 1998


Guest Editorial

The Best Holiday Gift: Read With a Young Child

by Karen Blaha, NW Regional Educational Laboratory

   When children read well, their learning life soars and surges with vast potential for future development. But when the opposite is true and children read poorly, doors are shut, possibilities foreclosed, school and learning become a drudge--or worse. As a result, the child who cannot read well--and the adult yet to be--suffers.

   Through research, much has been discovered about the conditions under which children learn to love reading, and those conditions should be put in place very early.

   Dr. Rebecca Novick, a Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory researcher in early-childhood education, pulled together a vast body of findings about reading and the preschool and primary school years. She writes about the finding in her new book, Learning to Read and Write--A Place to Start.

   There is abundant evidence, says Novick, that families who place importance on reading, writing, and speaking, providing warm and wide opportunities for reading storybooks, tend to have children who are early and competent readers. It's easy to see why it's essential that families and other caregivers strive to create an environment where reading is enjoyed and books are shared.

   And, advises Novick, it's never too early to start reading to children. For example:

   The nurturing environment enveloping a young child when stories are shared with caring adults is the best gift families and caregivers can offer children, starting them on an exciting road to learning.