Dr. Navsaria’s lecture on How Promoting Literacy is Key to Early Brain and Childhood Development is an interesting and scientific look on early childhood development and preventative measures against toxic stress and early adversity by, mainly, interacting and reading with children to promote their continued mental and physical health. As he states in the middle of his lecture, “reading is the fundamental skill for learning” (2014) and with about half of the country’s young children not getting read to early on in life, it affects their education, achievements, decision-making abilities and, more broadly, their impact on the world.
One particularly interesting suggestion Dr. Navsaria had was that although reading to children at an early age is critical, kids have short attention spans and are “hardwired for spoken language, not written language.” Therefore, reading to children could, and sometimes should, be a conversation. Dialogic reading, he explained, means not reading word-for-word, but rather engaging with the child by talking and asking them about the pictures, letting them flip through the pages and keeping them engaged in shared language, rather than reading from marks on the page that they don’t recognize or understand yet.
This could be particularly helpful with children librarians who do story time with their young patrons; depending on the age of the crowd, librarians don’t have to necessarily read one book out loud after another, but rather engage in a discussion with their group and keep kids within the story by letting them interact with it. I am currently taking a storytelling class this semester, and rather than reading picture books, the professor encourages the ancient art of oral storytelling of folktales while accompanied by a banjo, or lots of repetition so that kids can yell out the words along with him, or even uses body motions and hand/finger plays that kids delightedly echo.
Navsaria, Dipesh (2014, April 10). How promoting literacy is key to early brain and childhood development [Video file]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG-9BKBcvbo