As a parent or caregiver, you probably know that reading to your kids is good for them. But do you realize just how many underlying benefits there are to that simple act of sitting down with your child and a good book?
Here are just some of the reasons (in no particular order) why it’s a good idea to make time to read with your kids on a regular basis. (Most of these benefits are listed with young children in mind, but it is important to implement read-aloud time with older children as well.)
- develops a more peaceful night time routine – Merely having a consistent nighttime routine prepares children for what is coming (bedtime). Having read-aloud time as a part of that routine helps children start to wind down (depending on the books that are read, of course).
- offers early exposure to print – There is so much to be learned about how our written language works (holding a book right side up, letter recognition, reading from left to right, etc). Children who become familiar with books at an early age will find it much easier to move from these pre-reading skills to actually learning to read once they enter school.
- enhances vocabulary – Young children learn new words at an amazingly fast rate, all they need is the exposure. Sharing books with your children can easily provide that exposure. Children with bigger vocabularies are more able to describe the world around them as well as their own experiences, feelings, wants, and needs. It also helps them understand their world better. (This ability has been linked to higher self-esteem in kids.)
- increases exposure to outside world – Similar to the previously mentioned benefit, reading to your child can increase their knowledge of the world. (For example, a child who has never been to the ocean, can still learn all about it without leaving their house. Of course, nothing replaces an actual real-life experience, but if someone else is talking about the ocean, the child can understand and perhaps even participate in the conversation.)
- presents opportunities to practice focusing – While technology certainly has its place in this day and age, it is not known for enhancing a child’s attention span. In fact, much research suggests it is having a negative impact. Whereas, sitting down with a book (even on an e-reader) helps kids to practice focusing on one thing. And the more that reading becomes a habit, the longer the child is able to sit still and pay attention to the story (assuming the book is of interest to the child).
- creates bonding time – special moments can be had when a child has your undivided attention and when the rest of the world seems to just melt away as you get lost in a story.
- provides a safe place to ask questions and have “conversations” – When my daughter was afraid of going poopoo in the potty, we read, Everyone Poops repeatedly. Suddenly the topic of poo was an open conversation in our house, making it somehow less scary. And it wasn’t long before we overcame that potty training hurdle. Just about any issue you might be facing with a child has been written about in picture book format. Reading about it together creates a safe way to address the topic.
- enhances language skills – in addition to increasing a child’s vocabulary, read-aloud time also improves other communication skills. By listening to their caregiver talk about the pictures and events of the stories, as well as reading the dialogue, children learn ways to communicate about their own world.
- fosters a positive feeling toward reading – Developing a love for books early on can help children get through the difficult parts of learning how to read as they progress through the grade levels.
As an educator, I cannot emphasize enough how much reading aloud to your children helps them. Children learn a lot from early exposure to books, more than you may realize. If they can learn these skills in the home, they will be at a better starting point when they enter kindergarten where they can build on these foundations instead of just beginning the process in the classroom.
As a parent, I love finding new books to enjoy with my daughter. Here are some lists of our favorites you might enjoy.
And while you’re here, take a chance at the Kindle Children’s Tablet giveaway as part of Children’s Book Week.