Written by P. Humbargar
Edited by A. Noelle
Get Caught Reading is a nationwide campaign launched in 1999 to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read. May is Get Caught Reading month, but it is promoted throughout the year. It is the brainchild of former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder. As president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), Schroeder founded the campaign as a way for the publishing industry to help spread the word about the joys of reading.
The Get Caught Reading campaign has been embraced by hundreds of teachers, librarians, and booksellers throughout the country and is supported by many well-known people, including former first lady Laura Bush. Many sports figures and other celebrities well-known to children have been “caught reading” their favorite books and magazines! Photos of the celebrities caught reading have been made into posters and are available for free as just one of many ways the campaign promotes literacy. A variety of promotional materials and ideas are available to teachers, librarians, and book retailers through the Get Caught Reading website. Additionally, the campaign also supports Get Caught Listening—a way to share the pleasures of audiobook listening.
According to Get Caught Reading, research shows that early language experience stimulates children’s brains to grow, and thus, reading to them from a very early age gives them a huge advantage when they start school. New studies in neuroscience show the crucial role early language experiences play in brain development.
Get Caught Reading has available on their website a “Fact Sheet on the Importance of Reading to Infants and Young Children,” with a list of citations put together by the AAP to help adults understand the importance of reading aloud to children.
Research findings cited include the following:
- An infant’s brain is not genetically determined—early experiences play a decisive role.
- Within seconds of being read to, thousands of cells within a toddler’s brain respond. Some cells are “turned on;” existing connections are strengthened; and new cells are formed—all adding definition and complexity to the “intricate circuitry that will remain largely in place for the rest of these children’s lives.”
- “The development of early literacy skills through early experiences with books and stories is critically linked to a child’s success in learning to read.”
- “Development of literacy is a continuous process that begins early in life and depends heavily on environmental influences.”
- “Children who are read to from an early age are more successful at learning to read.”
- “Reading aloud to children is the single most important intervention for developing their literacy skills.”
- The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that “pediatricians prescribe reading activities along with other instructions given to parents at the time of well-child visits.” The president of the academy recommends daily reading from six months of age.
As advances in neuroscience continue, further research will undoubtedly confirm and expand upon these findings. As parents or other caregivers, we would hence do well to enjoy books and other reading materials ourselves, and to share that pleasure with the young children in our lives—just as the Get Caught Reading campaign encourages!
If you would like to read more about Get Caught Reading: click here.