A small change in how teachers and parents read aloud to preschoolers may provide a big boost to their reading skills later on, a new study found. That small change involves making specific references to print in books while reading to children -- such as pointing out letters and words on the pages, showing capital letters, and showing how you read from left to right and top to bottom on the page.

...one and even two years later, preschoolers in the high-dose STAR classrooms had higher word reading, spelling and comprehension skills than did children in the comparison group.

"If you're getting kids to pay attention to letters and words, it makes sense that they will do better at word recognition and spelling," she said.

"But the fact that they also did better at understanding the passages they read is really exciting. That suggests this intervention may help them become better readers."

...research suggests it helps children learn the code of letters and how they relate to words and to meaning.

"By showing them what a letter is and what a letter means, and what a word is and what a word means, we're helping them to crack the code of language and understand how to read," she said.

... research suggests very few teachers and parents do this systematically,...

...untrained teachers reference print about 8.5 times per reading session -- compared to up to 36 times for those who were trained.

Parents are even less likely to make print references while reading to their children. One study suggests that parents use such references only about once during a typical 10-minute reading session.[emphasis mine]

Preschoolers' Reading Skills Benefit from One Modest Change by Teac...

Tags: reading aloud to children

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Replies to This Discussion

Oh wow Ruth, thanks for this! I read to my children every night, but they aren't really picking it up on their own, and it's probably because I don't "print reference" enough. I'll take this advice to heart.

This doesn't surprise me very much. AFAIK it's typical for kindergarten teachers to focus on print awareness with pre and early readers. It's good to see that it can help even younger kids. I'm left wondering if the study took into account how often the study participants were read to in the home. We already know that exposure to lots of books at home is one of the better predictors for success in school and literacy regardless of income but unfortunately AFAIK exposure in low-income homes (the subjects of this study) is still considerably below exposure in higher income homes.

It's probably helpful to do both, but I'd like to know which - print awareness vs. simple exposure to a variety of books makes more of a difference in literacy outcomes.

Great article to post. Will start this withbmy 2 and 4 year old tomorrow night.

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