by: Dawn Kitchell August 31, 2016
Sept. 8 is the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day.
International Literacy Day was designated in 1965 by UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to "actively mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies."
For the third year, Missouri Press has created a special Newspaper In Education feature to give newspapers an easy-to-publish tool to remind their communities about the importance of literacy and the critical role parents play in building literacy skills at home.
This year, MPA has partnered with the Read Aloud 15 Minutes National Campaign to create a newspaper feature aimed at encouraging parents to spend at least 15 minutes a day reading to their children beginning at birth.
Parents know reading aloud is important for brain development and has a positive impact on vocabulary, listening skills, readiness for kindergarten and academic success, but, according to a recent survey, "How America reads aloud to its children," it isn't actually happening.
Only 1 in 10 parents, 8 percent, say their child is read books aloud 15 minutes a day starting at birth. (Read Aloud Survey Report, March 4, 2016, readaloud.org).
By 2023, Read Aloud 15 MINUTES wants 250 million Americans to have heard its critical message, "and for reading aloud from birth to have become the national caregiving standard. Because when every child is read aloud to by a loved one for 15 MINUTES every day, it will change the face of education in this country."
Newspapers have a big stake in encouraging reading at home. Children with strong reading skills and habits grow into adult readers. And the newspaper is still one of the most affordable print resources for reading together at home.
As bestselling author and speaker Jim Trelease, "Mr. Read Aloud," shared in his essay for the Missouri Press feature "Read to Your Kids," spending time in his father's lap reading the newspaper together taught him to love reading.
"What my dad taught me by example was that reading isn't worksheets in class, it's not phonics drills. Reading is fun, it's exciting and funny, and it can be painless. Without that in the back of my mind, I wonder if that hyper little kid would have stuck with all the drills and skills.
"Thirty years later, I'd read the statistics that validated what my parents had done. As Depression products, neither of them had gone to college, but the research out of the U.S. Department of Education shows that the students with the highest reading, writing, and math scores are the ones who come from the homes with the most printed materials (books, magazines and newspapers).
"We didn't own a car until I was in fifth grade and didn't own a house until seventh grade, but we owned a whole world of print. I speak nearly 100 times a year and none of what I say can be found in any of the English or math courses I took in college, but all of it can be found in the lessons I took in the lap of my dad when I was a child. I never had a more effective teacher or a class that was more fun."
Newspapers may download the new literacy feature "Put Your Kids on the Winning Team" feature at www.mo-nie.com using download code: readaloud15. It may be used to commemorate International Literacy Day or any time. And the feature by Trelease is available there as well, using download code: reading2.