Every Child Ready to Read and Toronto Public Library Ready for Reading is founded on research info areas as diverse as national literacy statistics, school readiness studies, stage of brain development and early childhood development.
Despite Canada's standing in the world as a rich and educated nation, adult literacy is a persistent problem. Statistics show that more than 48% of all Canadian adults do not have the literacy skills required to cope in a modern society. This means that they have difficulty reading, understanding and functioning effectively with written material. A recent Statistics Canada study found that individuals who have higher literacy proficiency have higher incomes.
Research shows that an astonishing number of the children are ill-prepared for school. The groundwork for success is laid in the home. Simple practices such as reading daily with a child and making books available in the home can counteract potentially negative factors such as low socioeconomic status. The relationship between the skills with which children enter school and their later academic performance is striking. Children who start school without the necessary skills typically stay behind.
Researchers continue to investigate all aspects of early childhood literacy. In the recent years, research has focused on trying to measure the connection between acquiring pre-emergent literacy skills and later literacy success. In addition, once the importance of the particular skill has been recognized, the best ways to teach that skill are being studied. Many of the latest findings focus on the effects of experience on brain development, and in particular, on the value of play as a way of learning skills. The City of Toronto’s Raising the Village website offers data and research measuring the well-being of children and families.
Initiatives to promote the importance of literacy are led by libraries and other organizations. ABC Life Literacy Canada launched Family Literacy Day to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. The Canadian Paediatric Society and The Hanen Centre provide tools to support young children and their families to develop literacy skills.
Scientists have found that the architecture of the brain develops in the stages beginning before birth, and each stage of the development builds on the previous one. In the first year of life, the connection between brain synapses is made at an astounding rate. At the same time, there are windows of opportunities, which are optimal periods for acquiring language and other skills.
It is important, therefore, that during the early years children are given the physical, emotional and social support they need that will allow the brain to develop to its potential. Children raised in nurturing and stimulating environments to build the neural pathways that support healthy development.