Kurtis Hagen reads to his children, Kai, 4, and Erik, 2, at Plattsburgh Public Library.
Kurtis Hagen has hundreds of children’s books for his kids.
And he takes Kai, 4, and Erik, 2, to the library at least every other week.
“It’s nice to get them out of the house and to check out books for them,” said Hagen, of Plattsburgh.
He’s a strong proponent of reading to children, saying it helps prepare them for school and assists with their development.
He is not the only one saying that, with research strongly backing both points he made and much more for children who are read to by their parents or guardians.
“We’ve gone through our entire collection, and they want new books,” Hagen said. “From everything I have read educationally, the most important thing you can do for a child is to read to them.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 26 percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet, compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently or not at all.
About 15 minutes before bed time is ideal for reading to children, said Stan Ransom, director of the Plattsburgh Public Library.
“Once you get in the habit the child starts to take an interest.”
The child begins to absorb the transition from book to spoken word and starts to recognize words such as cat, Ransom said.
The Plattsburgh Public library tries to supply the foundation for parents reading to children.
Children read roughly 890 books at the Plattsburgh Public Library last summer. About 219 children participated in the program.
Ransom recommended books such as the “I Spy” series, which helps children recognize shapes first and then words.
One of the library’s goals is to introduce children to reading and books and assist parents by offering advice on good books to read.
Ultimately, being read to will help children be more advanced in school and is key to learning in all its forms.
“It is the single most important thing parents can do with their children in their educational advancement,” Ransom said. “There have been a lot of studies done about reading.”
Sixty percent of children who were read to frequently count to 20 or higher, compared to 44 percent of those who were not read to frequently, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
A total of 54 percent write their own names, versus 40 percent, while 77 percent read or pretend to read, compared to 57 percent.
But only 55 percent of children ages three to five were read to daily in 2007, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read to aloud every day than are children in families with incomes at or above poverty.
Hagen began reading to his children as soon as it was possible without them wiggling out of his arms.
“They get a sense of what a story is and how books work from beginning to end,” Hagen said. “They get a sense of how language is written, and they become familiar with the shapes of words and letters.”
Kai has a dictionary and reads the word, while Hagen reads the definition.
He believes his children gain better concentration too. It is different than watching television, which puts viewers in a trance.
“When reading books your mind is making pictures,” Hagen said. “It is shaping your mind in a different way.
“I also have the opportunity to have a comfortable situation with my child. You have the emotional and intellectual happening and you have something to talk about.”