When I was young, my parents were graduate students with a limited budget. Even though money was tight, we always had plenty of books around the house.
Our local library supplemented my many bookstore purchases, and most evenings, we read two or three short stories together.
As I got older, I would spend evenings speeding through books on my own, and now, I often have two or three books of interest on my living room table. To this day, some of my favorite childhood memories are reading with one of my parents on our ’70s-style plaid hand-me-down couch.
Today, there are so many distractions and challenges that often the simple act of reading to a child seems to be a luxury. But no computerized doll or iGadget reading device can replicate the intimacy and interaction of reading.
It’s no surprise that statistics indicate that children who are read to or with regularly have better long-term educational outcomes. Researchers from the University of London’s Institute of Education found that children who are read to every day at age 3 are more likely to be flourishing in a wide range of subjects by age 5 than those who are not read to.
A longitudinal study from the international Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that students whose parents read to them regularly during their first year of school remained ahead in reading skills at 15.
In our office, we frequently work with voracious readers and those who are reading resistant. One thing that the vast majority of our voracious readers have in common is that they were read to regularly when they were young.
Basic, consistent reading opportunities give young people the opportunity to dream, discover and explore without leaving their living rooms.
Even within the affluent San Francisco Bay Area, there are many children whose families do not have regular access to children’s books. If we want to promote better educational outcomes, we all recognize that early intervention is key.
Providing access to children’s books is one of the simplest and most thoughtful ways of encouraging future leaders to develop a lifelong love of reading and learning.
This holiday season, Green Ivy Educational Consulting has scheduled a holiday book drive to benefit our local Children’s Book Project. Through Dec. 21, drop off new or gently used children’s books at the Green Ivy offices, 302 Main St., Suite 201, on the second floor above the U.S. Bank building in downtown Los Altos.
If you are buying books for your own children or young relatives, consider buying two copies and donating one. If you are cleaning out your older children’s bookshelves, consider dropping off some gently used titles in the book donation box. The books will be distributed to local schools, community centers and homes of children in need.
Ana Homayoun is founder of Los Altos-based Green Ivy Educational Consulting. For more information, visit www.greenivyed.com.