You have to admit that as a parent, getting your child to do something they don’t want to do can be a challenge. Unfortunately for some, convincing their child to sit down and read (in lieu of interacting with a digital device) can be one of those things. Though it may seem at times impossible, it should be stated that it is well worth making the effort to get your child reading as numerous studies conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics have shown that reading exerts a very positive effect on the developing brain. If that wasn’t enough, these studies have also concluded that kids who are read to from a very early age tend to have much stronger relationships with their parents later on in life.
With so much on the line in terms of your child's development every parent should make reading a priority. To that end, you may want to consider creating your own home library. Even a small collection of books can help encourage children to read, especially if you're able to give them ownership and pride over some of the books. Setting a strong foundational love of reading and books is a great way to give your child a head start in life.
Benefits of Prenatal Reading
Most parenting websites will tell you that talking regularly to your or your partner’s baby bump will help the little one recognize your voice once he or she is born. For some, the idea of speaking to a belly may seem a little silly, particularly when it comes to thinking of topics to discuss. Why not pick up a children’s book and start reading? Doing so will allow you to practice your rhythm and cadence for the hundreds upon hundreds of bedtime stories you’ll inevitably read, and if speaking to a belly seems awkward, it also gives you something to focus on. Establishing personal comfort aside, reading aloud to an unborn baby (specifically during the last 10 weeks of a pregnancy) can actually give them a jumpstart in their language comprehension skills and will help them to begin understanding speech patterns.
Benefits of Reading to Infants (0 - 12 Months)
During this time in your child’s life, reading is less about grasping the various elements of a story and more about developing early language recognition. Taking the time to read to them gives you a designated period in which to bond, and establishes a foundation for reading as they get older. Even though it may be some years before your child is reading on their own, there’s a lot to be said for allowing them to hold the book in their own hands and allowing them to interact with it (even if that means turning the pages or chewing on a corner, which is why it’s always good to have a decent supply of cheap kids books on hand for that very reason).
When your child hears you read with excitement, enthusiasm, and using different voices for different characters in the book, it tends to build their emotional awareness. Spending time with you, touching the pages, and pointing to different elements on the page also helps to develop social skills in young babies.
Benefits of Reading to Toddlers (1 - 3 Years)
At this age, reading to your child begins to get a bit more interesting. While it may seem like your child is really only paying attention to the pictures on the page, it’s important to know that there’s quite a bit going on under the hood. For example, hearing you read a story helps your child to develop their basic speaking skills. Sure, your child hears you speak quite a bit during the day, but you tend to slow down your speech when reading a children’s book out loud and that improves their understanding of how to properly pronounce certain words. Keep an eye out for signs of pre-literacy during this stage as well, which you can identify by your child showing excitement or enthusiasm about the story as the pages turn.
Reading out loud to a toddler also helps to introduce them to things in the world they’ve not yet seen or learned about. Books featuring different places and everyday objects like cars and animals, amongst others, will prompt your child to ask many questions about the images on the page.
Benefits of Reading to Preschoolers (3 - 5 Years)
If you have a preschooler in your home, chances are you’re already well aware that they have a favorite book,one that you can undoubtedly recite from cover-to-cover. Though it may be boring for you to read the same story night after night, remember that there are benefits for your child in doing so.
Your child’s vocabulary won’t grow after just one reading; a larger vocabulary is the result of a great deal of repetition. Reading a story over and over helps your child to identify letters and to begin to match letters with sounds.
Preschoolers, understandably, need to build their literacy skills and they’re more likely to do so if they value books and what they have to offer. If their parents read with enthusiasm and make it a fun experience, a child is far more likely to pick up books on their own.
Benefits of Reading with Grade School Children (5 - 12 Years)
At this age, your child’s school curriculum includes a great deal of literacy-based activities—but that doesn’t mean you should dial back reading time at home. Since children over five have exceptionally rich imaginations, reading to them out loud gives them the opportunity to explore different moments in history, imagine the ways in which other people live, and expose them to an array of new experiences. Exposure to places and people that are different from what they already know will actually help develop their ability to empathize with others.
Additionally, this age group has likely already mastered the basics of reading and is keen to develop a more robust vocabulary. Regular reading will allow your child to use more descriptive language, and use more formal grammatical structures when they speak.
Benefits of Reading with Adolescents (13 - 18 Years)
Did you know that teens who read regularly for fun tend to have a better understanding of the career path they’d like to take and generally have a firmer grasp on the consequences of risky behavior? Though you may notread to your child at this point, you can still have a positive influence on their reading habits by encouraging them to try different types of reading material, like poetry, for example.
No matter how you look at it, the benefits of reading at all stages of your child’s life can have a positive impact on their development and on their future. Whether you set them on the right path early on by reading to them every night, getting them a library card of their own, or ordering them a children’s book set, you’ll be doing your part to encourage a lifelong passion for reading.