Reading to your child is like giving them $250,000
Did you know that you can give a child a $50,000 gift of annual earnings for every year of his life from age 0 to 5, according to readingfoundation.org? That’s $250,000 in lifetime earnings just by reading to him or her for 20 minutes a day for a skill some may take for granted.
Most of us would love to be able to give a large financial gift to our child. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to put that kind of money away for college?
But this is a pay-it-forward gift that every parent can give just by investing in some great snuggle and read time with a child.
If there is ever a good argument for reading to a child, this is it. And it is fun, too.
That’s why a new Family Literacy Program with the Charleston County Public Library caught my eye.
Children’s librarians with the John L. Dart Library on Upper King Street and the Cooper River Memorial Library in North Charleston have received funds from the Ezra Jack Keats Minigrant Program to help build literacy skills for 100 families.
They are going out into those communities through outreach programs and talking to parents about bringing their children to the library.
The parent and the child will make a decorated book bag together like the one in Anna McQuinn’s book “Lola at the Library.”
Then when the child and parent come to the library, they will get a free copy of the book and be shown other books they might like to read.
It’s all part of CCPL’s effort to help younger children and their parents develop reading skills at an earlier age.
Children often struggle in their early years in school if they haven’t formed large vocabularies and made the connection between language and the symbols on a page.
Kathy Sanders, children’s librarian at Cooper River Memorial Branch, will be working with the Trident Literacy Association.
And Kim Odom, children’s librarian at the John L. Dart Branch, is going to be working with the Marion Strobel Community Center.
Pam Cadden, CCPL’s children’s services coordinator, says that the library has put in place programs that can help children and their parents learn to read from a very young age so that children are ready to read when they come to school. This one is an extension of those programs.
Cadden says that studies show many children in poorer areas will have heard only one-third as many words as children from middle-income homes by age 3. And at first grade, they may have only half the vocabulary as their contemporaries.
Put another way, experts can determine how successful a child will be in life by how well he reads in third grade. Several large states, including California and North Carolina, build prisons based on those statistics.
California estimates that it currently costs $47,000 to keep an inmate in prison each year.
And it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s no better way to end the day with your child than reading a book like “Lola at the Library” or the modern classic “Goodnight Moon.”
And yes, you might have to read them a few hundred times, but think of all the dollars you are dropping into their lifetime piggy bank, all free of charge.
Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or email@example.com.