The primary focus of this piece is the fundamental need to read to children to set the scene for their literacy development. It is asserted, reading to all children should happen daily for the first three years of their schooling. The reasons for this assertion are explored and explained: a vast vocabulary is gleaned, learned and used; the simple and complex grammar of language is absorbed, understood, and later used correctly; the ideas embedded in every story, every sentence and every phrase become familiar and comfortable; and all these aspects of hearing language lead to a heightened ability to predict what comes next, thereby assisting children to learn to read far more easily, quickly and happily.
The secondary focus of the article is an expression of dismay that so many educators regard reading to children as an expendable part of the literacy curriculum. Nothing could be further from the truth.