What’s the one thing, that takes fifteen minutes or less, that parents can do with their children daily that will provide the foundation for a lifetime of learning? The answer is simple, reading aloud to them. Yet, today our children have stimuli coming at them constantly in the form of video games, television, and social media. These technological stimuli pull them further and further away from the enjoyment of reading and being read to.

Research has shown that if children hear words for two minutes daily, they will have heard 180,000 words in a year, and with five minutes that becomes over 350,000 words in a year. Reading to children helps them to listen better, increases their attention span, builds vocabulary, and enables them to understand concepts better. Reading to children improves their imagination, helps them feel positive about books and learning, and develops a love of reading. What we often don’t think about, or give ourselves credit for, is a parent’s natural ability to teach. Children spend approximately 900 hours in school a year versus the 7,800 hours they spend at home and in the community. The single most important thing that parents can do to help their child succeed is to read aloud to them.

Beginning April 1 and continuing to April 17, all students of Eugene Field Elementary, their families, and school staff will be reading the book “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume. With the assistance of an A+ for Education grant, the school will provide every family and staff member with a copy of the book. A nightly reading schedule will enable everyone to follow along together and will generally take only fifteen minutes. Reading professionals recommend reading aloud books above a child’s reading level, so we’ve chosen a book that young children can understand and older children will also enjoy. There will be follow-up discussions at school, along with special activities to engage students in the book. We understand that circumstances, such as work schedules and various activities may make it difficult for families to read together every night. Therefore, a daily video recording of the scheduled reading will be provided for families to listen to as needed. The link for these videos is http://bit.ly/EFreadaloud. Families can also access this link through our Eugene Field Elementary Facebook page.

Reading the same book together, students, parents, and school staff, we hope to provide a special reading time for families and build a community of readers within Eugene Field and the Mexico community. For those of you who have children attending other schools, we invite you to watch and listen to our video recordings. You don’t have to have the book in your hands to enjoy the funny story of Peter Hatcher and his annoying younger brother Fudge.