What Counts as Reading with Kids?

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Enough with reading, let’s do some math here.

Surely you’ve noticed the trend across blogs and Wall Clockwebsites to have numbers in their title these days. So, let’s run some of those numbers…

My current favorite reading campaigns (You didn’t really think I’d write about anything but reading-focused math did you?) are 1000 Books Before Kindergarten (http://1000booksbeforekindergarten.org/) and Read Aloud 15 Minutes a day (http://www.readaloud.org/).

If “What gets measured gets done,” then these great folks have given us all a clear path to success. These two initiatives have caught fire due to their simple and compelling messages, which work in no small way because they offer clear targets for parents and preschool educators to shoot for.

If parents start reading to their tiny babies the day they are born these two guidelines should offer them all they need to know to feel successful at being good mommies and daddies. Caregivers and preschool educators can also use these indexes to laud their commitment to doing what’s right for the little guys in their care.

Let’s get to the important figures.

Does 1000 books sound like a lot? Does 15 minutes sound like a little?

Depending upon a child’s birthday, parents have as few as 1825 days prior to their kiddo entering Kindergarten to read 1000 books. Given that when kids are tiny, parents can read a half dozen books at any given sitting and that even when they are closing in on Kindergarten, two or three each night before bed is not out of the question, then 1000 books in 1825 days sounds like a cinch.

With those figures, 1000 is a very manageable goal. In fact if it is anything, it may be too low, even if parents just plan to read a single book to their little guys each busy day!

That 1000 is complemented by the 15 minutes a day. Those folks have come at it from another direction. They are merely asking parents to read for 15 minutes each day. Any time of day, but make it consistent…EVERY day. They are less interested in how many books than they are in time spent reading (and we hope, discussing) books. Okay, let me get my calculator out here… that adds up to an hour and 45 minutes per week. So, even if families missed a couple of days during any week (or even every week) due to all of the things that keep parents busy, that could be made up in a few extended reading / discussing times on the less frantic days.

Mom reading on tablet with girl FlippedAgain this feels pretty manageable for families with even complex lives. So, if this is the key to getting kids primed for learning to read, then why are so few kids arriving at Kindergarten not knowing how to hold a book?

The bottom line is commitment. Either parents commit to ensuring their children will hit Kindergarten and progress through school as enthusiastic and comfortable readers or they don’t. These two numeric indexes of good parenting offer busy moms and dads (and older siblings and loving grandparents and caring neighbors) something countable and comfortably within reach to account for.

These two organizations are wonderful in the missions they have taken on and in their mathematically simple messages.

So, bottom line, “What counts” IS reading with kids.