Reading to your child consistently throughout their childhood will change their lives. It is perhaps the best thing you can do to help them succeed academically. Not only that, reading stories and books will provide cherished memories and encourage a deep connection between you and your kids. When I was a teenager, I read the first four Harry Potter books to my younger brother. We sat on his bed and read together for hours, sometimes late into the night. I did the voices. We laughed together. It is one of my favorite memories with my brother. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was doing much more than reading to my brother. Because reading to a child is much more than just reading. Here are seven amazing benefits that come from reading to your child.
Reading helps language development
From birth, until about age three, your child’s brain is developing at a rapid rate. It’s essential that you talk to them, sing with them, and read to them. Why reading? Because reading exposes your child to a large variety of words and phrases. They’ll learn vocabulary. They will be able to connect pictures and words together to understand what they mean. Reading will help them learn to speak and speak well.
Reading encourages parent-child bonding
It’s inevitable. Sometimes you and your child will not get along. Little kids have big feelings. Parents get frustrated and tired. I’ve noticed that on the days when it seems like all I’m doing is fighting with my kids, reading can save the day. There is something powerful about snuggling down to enjoy a book together. Disagreements are forgotten. You both become immersed in a world of new and exciting things. It doesn’t matter if you are reading a chapter book, or your favorite picture book. Reading out-loud to your kids will help you connect in ways that you never would have guessed. Even my big, much-too-tough boy will sit, cuddle, and melt into me when we read together. We laugh and wonder together. Later, we can share sweet “inside joke” moments about the books we’ve read together. If you want to stay connected with your kids, read to them.
Reading to your child inspires a love of reading
Do you want to raise a reader? Someone who loves reading anything they can get their hands on? Read to them! It might seem like common sense, but many parents neglect reading to their kids and then complain about how their kids don’t love to read. A love of reading starts on the laps of devoted parents. If you read to your child now, they will continue that habit as adults.
Reading to your child encourages parent-child communication
Every parent reaches the day when they realize they need to talk to their child about a difficult topic. I know I don’t relish talking to my kids about sex, bullying, or even drugs. The brilliant thing about books is that you can find one on nearly any topic. Picture books are a great way to introduce a hard topic to your children. Books can make hard conversations easier to have. Reading is a non-threatening, low-pressure way to encourage communication with your kids.
Are you looking for more ways to talk to your child? Read: Your kids want to talk to you. 10 tips for better communication.
Reading to your child builds listening skills and attention span
Your child’s attention span and listening skills will impact their lives for good or bad. Although some kids are naturally better listeners and can stay focused for longer periods of time, not all can. Reading to your child will help them build up those skills. They’ll learn to sit and listen for the length of a book. Or two books. And they won’t notice that they are working on those skills because reading is fun and they are spending time with you. If you want your child to be able to focus in school (and eventually work settings), read to them when they are young.
Reading to your child teaches thinking skills
Books are full of interpersonal dilemma’s, tricky situations, and more. As you read to your kids they will learn to think about situations. They will begin to think about cause and effect, right and wrong, consequences, and how to work through problems. These thinking skills will serve your child their entire lives.
Reading to your child opens the door to learning any topic
When your kids are little, you have more say in what they read. You can provide books on any topic. As your child gets older, they might become pickier about what you read together. Find books they like. Keep it light and fun. Let them choose the books. My boys love books with potty humor. Farts, butts, and underwear are par for the course at this age. I humor them, because I know that if they can learn to love reading (even about fart jokes) then later on they will read books about finance, personal development, economics, nutrition, and more. Reading is a wonderful teacher.
Tips For Reading success:
It made perfect sense to me to begin reading to my oldest son when he was a baby. We started very young. At six months he was laughing and pointing and turning pages in his favorite books. Now he reads me books. Those early years are so important for development. Read to your babies. If you didn’t read to your baby, start now—no matter the age of your child.
Read often and consistently
Reading 20 books in one day is no the same as reading one or two books a day for 20 days. Make it a habit. You can incorporate reading into your regular schedule, such as bedtime or right after school.
Let them choose the books
There are thousands and thousands of books you can read to your child. Don’t push books that your child doesn’t like. That’s a great way to turn them off from reading. Instead, step back and let them choose what they’d like you to read to them. You might be surprised at what they choose.
Pause while reading
Don’t rush the story. Pause while you are reading to ask questions or make comments. It can help your child understand what is happening in the story. Make your child an active part of the story. Have them make noises or sounds that correspond with what is happening. Ask them to turn the pages.
“Read” the pictures
Children’s books often rely heavily on the pictures to tell the story. When you pause, ask your child what is happening based on the pictures. Not only will it expand the written story, but it is so fun for kids to see what is happening.
Take advantage of your local library
Even if you have a great home library, it’s hard to stay on top of the newest books. Your local library will expand your child’s reading opportunities. Not only that, but most local libraries have amazing community programs. Our local library hosts story times, holiday parties, seasonal reading challenges, and more.
Try audio books
Older kids might not love the idea of having mom or dad read to them. When that time comes, pick up an audio book to listen to together. You’ll still get the benefit of time together and a new story to share. You can even find audio books that go along with picture books for those days when you just can’t read, but you want to cuddle together with your kids and listen while flipping through the pictures.
Reading aloud to your child will deepen your relationships and encourage learning. Start today to build a daily habit of regular reading.
Do you read with your child? How do you make it happen on a regular basis? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks.