March 24, 2011

KBN announces a new research-based national learning initiative to rebuild American education.

      The Kids’ Book Network, in cooperation with the U.S. Reading Team Foundation, is pleased to announce a new national initiative to refocus American education on solving a major problem in educational achievement.
As of today, the KBN website features a complete program of free books and instructional support designed to enable any parent to teach their toddler to begin reading before the age of two.
       You'll find a full explanation of the Read At Two program – including toddler learning objectives, parent teaching strategies, and much more – in the program's 28-page Parent Handbook. The Handbook is located and available for easy direct on-monitor viewing on the special KBN library page for every book featured in the program.

      We're introducing our Read At Two program primarily to support parents and caregivers of children from approximately 18 to 36 months old, the toddler age. Then, we've brought the same books into the KBN library, in our new Pre-K and Kindergarten book categories – with the addition of their California teaching/learning standards – for versatile use in the classroom with children from Pre-K and Kindergarten to First Grade and beyond.
      This way (a) parents can now have an easy-to-follow way to scaffold their children's early reading and language development at home, while (b) children can continue on and even accelerate their learning progress with the same familiar books as part of their first years in classroom education.
      And finally, (c) professional classroom teachers and educators now have a way both to support parent at-home teaching, as well as to work with traditional public and school libraries and librarians to overcome any other book shortages or other at-home reading/learning limitations.
      Why is such early reading development so crucially important?
      The answer has to do with both strong early vocabulary development and the habit of intellectual exploration during the at-home, toddler phase of child development – without which a child is later likely to experience an irreplaceable loss of learning facility in middle- and high school.
      As discovered through a major longitudinal study by educational researchers Hart and Risley [The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3, In: American Educator, Spring, 2003], vocabulary use at age 3 is strongly predictive of both language skills and reading comprehension at age 9-10. And many parents, although they may love and nurture their children in other ways, simply don’t actively speak and converse with their children enough to build their vocabulary and related cognitive powers to the level necessary for easier and higher learning success.
      That’s what daily reading with books can achieve. And that’s what KBN’s new national initiative is all about.
      KBN today wants every parent and educator in America to understand that all children need to sit in their parent or caregiver’s lap every day and start reading books, and more books, starting as early as just 14- or 16- or 18-months old.
      To that end, KBN’s free Read At Two program and Parent Handbook provide a sensible, practical platform, or every-day learning/development instrument, to enable families to give their children the critical interactive parent-child experience they need for strong mental development. Reading development is almost a side benefit to the increase in vocabulary development and affirmation experience that comes with parents holding their babies on their laps and discovering together the meaning and content of books.
      Local site-level implementation of KBN’s national Read At Two initiative, including education and family support, will be directed in parallel by the U.S. Reading Team Foundation, which will seek to work closely with families in local and regional school, library and social services partnerships – to help us all step up to a new standard in American education.
      Now let’s get started.

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