We’ve been reading A Series of Unfortunate Events in our family for the last several months. One of my favorite things about the series of books (there’s thirteen in total, each book with thirteen chapters) is the inclusion of challenging vocabulary, introduced in fun and engaging ways.
Consider this study about how much better equipped children are when they’re read to:
Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to, a new study found.
This "million word gap" could be one key in explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development, said Jessica Logan, lead author of the study and assistant professor of educational studies at The Ohio State University.
Even kids who are read only one book a day will hear about 290,000 more words by age five than those who don't regularly read books with a parent or caregiver.
"Kids who hear more vocabulary words are going to be better prepared to see those words in print when they enter school," said Logan, a member of Ohio State's Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy.
"They are likely to pick up reading skills more quickly and easily."
At Heroes of Liberty, we are big believers in writing books with challenging vocabulary, with this science in mind. We want to be part of parents’ efforts to build and expand their kids’ vocabularies, and we don’t shy away from introducing children to words most modern children’s books aren’t publishing anymore, harkening back to classics in which authors didn’t write in dumbed down language just because they were writing for children.
Meghan Cox Gurdon’s book Enchanted Hour, available on Reading Out Loud, goes beyond just the critical expansion of vocabulary, into the incredible neuroscientific advantages of reading aloud.
By reading aloud to their children, parents aren’t only increasing their academic capabilities,they are setting their moral compass as well. This deeper understanding of the social benefits was another animating reason for the launch of Heroes of Liberty: we want to share with children not just stories for stories’ sake, but to teach our children about the morals and values children can glean from the individuals we’re profiling.
In a powerful piece for Ambleside Online, a popular literature homeschool curriculum based on the philosophy of Charlotte Mason, the late Wendi Capehart argues that “Books Build Character.” She explained, “A well-written book will have many ideas for the mind to feed upon. With such a banquet of ideas set before us, we may each bring away a different dish from any given book.”
What is the goal of education? Charlotte Mason argued that it was more important to consider the formation of character than pure academics. The beautiful thing about reading out loud is you don’t have to choose between building a child’s mind and nurturing their soul. You can do both, simply by reading aloud to them and with them.
This is Part 4 of a five-part series on reading aloud to children, by Heroes of Liberty Editor Bethany Mandel. If you missed them, you can catch up on Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Don’t forget to check back soon for the final part of this series — ‘The How.’
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