More than half the children in this country – 13 million children – will not hear a bedtime story tonight.
This concerning fact comes courtesy of ReadAloud.org, a decade-long, non-profit public awareness movement with a goal to have every child read aloud to by a parent or loved one for 15 minutes every day starting at birth. Reading or being read to at an early age prevents lags in children’s educational progress. In pursuing its goal, ReadAloud depends on partners in cities across the nation to rally grassroots support through local awareness efforts and community outreach. Now, the Environmental Nature Center is joining its ranks.
“The response we’ve had at the local level has been amazing,” says ReadAloud.org Executive Director and co-founder Bob Robbins. “Businesses, teachers, librarians, health care workers … they all recognize the importance of what we’re trying to do, and they’re all drawn to our simple, but powerful message. We are excited to have the Environmental Nature Center help parents with young children throughout California join our growing league of academic scholars, business leaders, government officials, daycare workers, teachers, community workers, parents, and friends who are working to make reading aloud for 15 minutes every day, starting at birth, a parenting standard. Together, we will help more children begin kindergarten ready to learn, get the most out of their education, and become productive citizens.”
This Sunday the ENC will host its second Reading in the Redwoods event. Parents and their children are invited on a hike out to the ENC’s Redwood Forest with naturalist Valerie Bain who will read aloud from “Andrew Henry’s Meadow”, written and illustrated by Doris Burn. Afterwards, families will have the opportunity to build their own makeshift “villages” inspired by the reading.
“Kids are spending more time with screen media — and at younger ages — than ever before,” says Bain. “Research suggests that screen time can have lots of negative effects on kids, ranging from obesity and irregular sleep patterns to social and behavioral issues. Put down the electronic devices and pick up a book. Let’s read, people!”
As part of their partnership with the ReadAloud program, the ENC staff plans to offer Reading in the Redwoods monthly, with each event featuring a different book and themed activities to accompany it.
“Reading together and talking with your child about literature is a chance to bond as a family, and it encourages a child’s love of reading” said ENC Executive Director Bo Glover, who led the previous Reading in the Redwoods event. “Imagination, growth, and improved reading, writing, and verbal skills soar when a child picks up a book.”