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There is a proven way to help children learn and it’s free: Read aloud to them.

Young children who have lots of stories read to them enter kindergarten as much as 14 months ahead in language and pre-reading skills. According to educators, while listening to stories, children learn a more sophisticated vocabulary than they are likely to hear elsewhere, while also picking up grammar, syntax and general knowledge. The more children under five are read to, the richer and deeper their language capacities become (with positive effects later in English, math and other subjects.)

Even better, it works for students 12 to 13 years old, too!

In a study lead by the University of Sussex, 20 English teachers read novels to poor-to-average students for three months. Morale and test results soared. Children who once hated English lessons were practically racing into the classroom to find out what happened next. When given reading comprehension tests, average readers made 8.5 months of progress while poorer students made 16 months of progress.

The simple act of a teacher reading aloud a few times a week produced students who were happier, more motivated and more capable academically.

Renee Garrison is the award-winning authoof two Young Adult books, The Anchor Clankers,” and “Anchored Together.” She is Past President of the Florida Authors and Publishers Association.