On a recent Monday morning in Washington, D.C., a group of 3-year-old preschoolers bumbled their way into a circle, more or less, on the rug of their classroom. It was time to read.
The children sat cross-legged as their teacher, Mary-Lynn Goldstein, held high a book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. There was a short conversation about pigeons, then, for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, cows; and then Goldstein began to read. She read as most teachers read, occasionally stopping to ask a question, point out a picture or make a comment about the story.
In other words, it was a familiar scene — a scene that, on that very day, likely took place in every preschool classroom in the country. Preschool teachers do this, and have been doing it for decades.
“The thought was you read to children — that will make a big difference in how well they read later on when they’re in school,” says Anita McGinty, an education researcher who works at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. “That’s still probably the biggest message out there: Read to young children.”