In the U.S., there is a truly distressing number of adults who are unable to read past an elementary level. In fact, 44 million adults in this country are unable to read a story to their children. Roughly fifty percent of adults are unable to read a book written for the eighth grade level. Almost fifty percent of adults do not read a single book in an entire year. The ability to read and write is the foundation for all other types of education, as well as the ability to perform well in most places of employment.  As a result, there is a proven correlation between illiteracy and income.

Many U.S. adults cannot read at the level required to earn a living wage. As a result of this, many earn an income that is considered to be below the poverty level. Furthermore, illiteracy and crime are quite often intertwined. In fact, the Department of Justice has stated that there is a link between crime and the failure to read. The vast majority of inmates in America’s prisons are unable to read past the fourth grade level.

Encouraging Your Child to Read

There is no denying the fact that encouraging reading within your household will bring about myriad benefits. Getting your child to read is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Some children love reading from the very beginning, but others need a bit of a nudge toward the shelves.

Children need literature just like adults do. They need something that stimulates their imagination and deepens their curiosity, love of learning, and the desire to play. Offer them a wide array of books for them to choose from, to give them the most positive experience possible. They need to be scared, amazed, excited, and to have their curiosity piqued. They need something that will make them think, but don’t get so focused on providing educational books that you turn your back on the fun books. Let your child choose which books they want to read. Many children’s books are amusing, stimulating, and contain positive messages. It’s great to provide books that build their reading skills, but to only offer these will kill any love of reading they may already have. Reading is fun, and shouldn’t be challenging all the time.

Remember, the library is a fun place to visit. Take your family on regular trips to the library, and make it a fun and exciting outing. Get your children excited about the fact that there is a book on pretty much any subject they can think of. If they want a book about clouds, there are plenty of books available on the subject. Same goes for dinosaurs, princesses, bugs, horses, cars, zombies, and anything else that is currently holding their attention. Getting your child excited about reading will increase their reading skills. The more engaged they are in the book, the more value they will place on reading and learning.

Ask them about the books they are reading, and encourage a dynamic discussion. They will love spending time with you, and they will be thrilled to share all of the wonderful things they are reading with you. Ask them to read their favorite book to you, and show enthusiasm for what they are reading. This is their absolute favorite book, so you should get just as excited about it as they are.

Improving Your Own Reading

If your own reading skills are lacking, there are some ways you can start improving them today.

Evaluate your reading habits. Do you tend to mouth the words as you read them, or say them aloud as you go along? Doing these things can slow your reading rate and make it difficult to improve your reading speed and skills.

When you practice your reading, make sure you set aside an ideal spot for doing so. Choose a place and time that will afford you the least amount of interruptions, the most comfortable seating, and ample lighting. Hold the book about fifteen inches out from you, or roughly the distance from your elbow to your wrist. This is the best position for reading, as it’s easiest on your eyes and on your posture.

Read whole phrases at a time, rather than honing in on every single word. This will increase your reading speed, cut down on you flicking your eyes back to re-read something you already went over, and will boost your reading comprehension.

Build your personal lexicon by reading with a dictionary by your side. If you come across a word you don’t know, jot it down. If you can, figure out the definition based on context clues within your reading. If you’re stuck, refer to your dictionary. Not only is this a means of actively reading, but it will also build your vocabulary.

When you start out, practice reading for fifteen to thirty minutes at a time. Review your comprehension by summarizing what you have just read.

Benefits of Encouraging Your Family to Read

Learning to read starts long before a child actually enters school. It starts with parents reading to their children, buying their children books, and instilling a love of reading. Those who are not read to, and not encouraged to read, will be less prepared for learning than other children. This will pay off in both the short-term, and in the long-term. The employees that are most likely to be employed in the U.S. have at least a two-year college degree.

Encouraging your family to read will allow them to make more informed decisions about their health, political campaigns, which pets they welcome into their home, which hobbies they take up, and how they will become active in their communities. Additionally, the more households that read, the more likely crime rates are to drop. There is already a proven correlation between adult illiteracy and crime. In fact, the least literate cities have a lower livability score and higher rates of crime. For example, Bakersfield is the least literate city in the United States. The overall crime rate in this city is 66% higher than the national average, with an individual having a one-in-twenty chance of becoming a victim of any crime.

Literacy starts at home, and it starts with you.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.imgix.net

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