David Kerbow, a researcher for the Center for School Improvement at the University of Chicago, discusses the development of phonemic awareness and the value of reading aloud to children.
Phonemic awareness especially for kindergarten students is a very key aspect to early literacy. When we hear spoken language, we don't hear separate parts. We speak that way. Even words are not separated in our spoken language, and children need to have their attention directed rhyme is a very good way to begin that process, but also beginning to say words slowly and to hear individual sounds begins to help children pay attention to specific letters and how those letters correspond to specific speech sounds, so phonetic awareness is quite fundamental, and it's not necessarily something that children acquire naturally on their own. Some may, but others need to be supported in discovering this about words and how they work. Comprehension skills for early readers, being read to is so important, because they begin to understand the flow of stories and how stories have a beginning, middle and end and how these things fit together, so being read to early on is quite essential.