Early childhood development is one of the core components of our two-generation program. To ensure that children are meeting their age-appropriate linguistic milestones, we place a heavy emphasis on supporting our participants to read to their children and promote early literacy. We believe in making reading fun and we help our program participants start libraries for their children at home by providing free books through our partner, Bring Me A Book Foundation.
What is Early Literacy?
Early Literacy is the development of skills that support children in learning to read. Children who meet their literacy milestones and are reading proficiently in the early grades are more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college (source: https://www.renaissance.com/solutions/early-literacy/). Early literacy is essential to giving children the foundation they need to learn and grow.
Why is Early Literacy Important for Families?
Our participants love getting books for their kids (in English and Spanish) and we encourage them to read to their children daily. Daily reading improves children’s cognitive skills and helps moms bond with their children. For many program participants, learning about children’s brain development is new, as is learning that reading can have a positive effect on their language development and their bond as mother and child.
Teen Success has had a big impact in my first year of being a mom. It has showed me…how to get [my son’s] first year of life going on the right track by reading to him every night. – Adileni, Teen Success Participant
Unfortunately, achievement in early literacy is negatively impacted by racial inequities in access to resources and knowledge. In the state of California, just 55% of Latino and 58% of Black children were read to everyday, as compared 83% of White children. Latino children are less likely to be enrolled in preschool at ages 3-4 as compared to White children (source: https://scorecard.childrennow.org), often due to the lack of affordable childcare and preschools. From an early age, young children of color aren’t given the same access to opportunities to succeed.
Ninety-six percent of Teen Success, Inc. families are living in poverty, increasing the barriers children face to achievement in early literacy. Studies have shown one of the best ways low-income families can improve reading achievement is by having books and printed materials in their home (Newman, Sanford, et all. “American’s Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy”; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2000).
In addition, our program participants learn about and are encouraged to talk and sing with their babies to foster healthy brain development. 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 (Bardige, B. Talk to Me, Baby! (2009), Paul H Brookes Pub Co.)
How Do Reading Skills Affect School-Readiness?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 1 in 3 children don’t start kindergarten with the skills they need to learn to read; and about two thirds of children aren’t reading proficiently by the end of 3rd grade. Additionally, according to Zero to Three, a baby’s brain grows to 80% of it’s adult size by age 3.
These statistics can seem alarming, and they are. However, the solution is simple. Reading is easy, accessible, and has the most impact in terms of growth for a child’s brain development. Bringing an intentional learning and development activity like reading into a child’s life puts them on a tremendous path to success during the most significant growth of their lives.
We’re encouraging moms to read with their kids to improve their children’s cognitive skills and help her family bond. By doing it, she’s preparing her children to be kindergarten-ready because they will have been exposed to the rhythms of language, learned sight words, and will love reading long before they start kindergarten.
Reading accelerates language development and 88% of Teen Success participants’ children are meeting their linguistic milestones. Coupled with context-based developmental assessments, Teen Success, Inc. is helping moms prepare their children for success in school.
Reading aloud to a child for 15 minutes every day from the time they are born is the single most important thing parents can do to help children prepare for reading and learning. Reading aloud 15 minutes every day for 5 years adds up quickly! Over the course of 5 years, the 27,575 minutes or 456.25 hours spent reading, and that makes a tremendous difference in children’s lives. (Source: https://www.eita-pa.org/15-minutes-a-day-to-school-success/)
On average, young families at Teen Success, Inc. spend 16 minutes reading together daily!
Promoting reading and early literacy throughout the community is important for success in school and it’s fun! We’ve put together a community-curated list of children’s books for you and we hope you see a favorite. Feel free to share the list with your friends and family!