Early Childhood Literacy Matters

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The foundation for lifelong learning is built during the early critical years of life.

The first few years of a child’s life are when the brain grows and develops the most, and a child’s experiences in these early years affect how their brain develops. A child's brain produces more than 1 million new neural connections every second. A newborn’s brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain. Incredibly, it doubles in size in the first year and keeps growing to about 80 percent of adult size by age three and 90 percent — nearly full grown — by age five.

This “wiring” shapes infants and toddlers’ ability to learn to read and think critically. Because of that fact, as early as age three, a child’s vocabulary can predict third-grade reading achievement. What is the best way to ensure a child is armed with the knowledge they need to succeed? Reading aloud to that child and giving them access to books.

Through our partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, we are working to send every child in Washington from birth to age five a new book each month. Research has shown that a child with 25 books in their home complete an average of two additional years of schooling compared to their peers without books in their home. (1)

We cannot do this work alone. The important efforts of all Imagination Library affiliates, community partners, and stakeholders are bringing free books into the homes of over 35,000 Washington children to-date.  Together, we will ensure that all Washington early learners can have the gift of literacy to succeed in school and beyond, and are inspired to Dream More, Learn More, Care More and Be More!

 

Research and Outcomes

The benefits of the Imagination Library go beyond children having more books. Early language development is critical to a child’s literacy. And participants receiving books through the Imagination Library have been able to see this development in real time.

Resources:

1. University of Nevada, Reno. "Books in home as important as parents' education in determining children's education level." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2010.

2. Schweinhart, L.J., Montie, J., Xiang, Z., Barnett, W.S., Belfield, C.R., & Nores, M. (2005). Lifetime Effects: The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through age 40. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Educational Research Foundation.

3. Neuman, S.B. & Dickinson, D.K. (Ed.) (2006). Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

4. Berk, L. E. (Ed.). (2009). Child Development (8th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.