Reading to children has many benefits that can support their future success. Some of these benefits include developing strong reading skills, improving vocabulary, and gaining exposure to different genres of books. Additionally, reading aloud to children can help them develop a love for reading, which is essential for success in school, work, and life in general.
What Are the Benefits of Reading for Children?
The importance of reading for children is immense. Reading for pleasure can help a child’s education, social and cognitive development, wellbeing, and mental health.
What are the Effects of Reading on Child Development?
Reading is good for a child’s development in many ways, according to research by BookTrust. One study found benefits such as better later literacy skills, more social interaction between adults and children, and more engagement with the world by children. Reading can also provide a stable source of information for children, which can be especially helpful for those growing up in difficult situations.
There are multiple other benefits that reading can have on a child’s development, including:
Assisted Cognitive Development
Cognitive development refers to how we perceive and think about our world about our intelligence, reasoning, language development, and information processing. By reading to children, you provide them with a deep understanding of their world and fill their brains with background knowledge. They then use this acquired background knowledge to make sense of what they see, hear, and read, which aids their cognitive development.
When we read a book, we identify with the characters in the story, feeling empathy for them. This allows us to develop a greater understanding of emotions, which helps us understand our own emotions and the emotions of others. Additionally, children will gain a greater understanding of emotions, which can help them understand their own emotions and those of others. This helps dramatically with their social development.
Gaining Deeper Understanding
When we read a book, we can travel to different places without leaving our seat. We can learn about new people, places, and events that we would be otherwise unaware of. This understanding can provide us with a greater sense of the world around us, as well as different cultures.
Building Stronger Relationships
If parents read with their children on a regular basis, their bond will become stronger. This is because reading gives parents and children a chance to share a common experience that they can both look forward to. Also, reading provides children with a sense of security and helps them feel loved, which are essential for their development and wellbeing.
Supported Cognitive Development
Research has shown that reading to young children improves cognitive skills and helps with cognitive development. Cognitive development is the ability to think and understand; it is the construction of thought processes including remembering, problem-solving, and decision-making. It refers to how a person perceives and thinks about his or her world through areas such as information processing, intelligence, reasoning, language development, attention span, and memory.
Starting to read aloud to your child gives them a foundation of knowledge about their young world, which aids in understanding what they observe, hear, and read. Many educators and researchers believe that “It is the talk that surrounds the reading that gives it power, helping children to connect what is in the story to their own lives,” rather than just the pronunciation of the words. Introducing reading into your young child’s life, and the conversations that it will prompt helps them to make sense of their own lives, especially at a young age.
Consider this excerpt from a study on toddlers’ cognitive development as a result of being read aloud:
When a child care provider reads to a toddler, it causes an immediate reaction in their brain. Thousands of cells become active, some are ‘turned on,’ new connections are formed, and existing ones are strengthened. This circuitry will remain in place for the rest of their lives.
The more adults read aloud to their children, the easier it will be for their children to develop a large vocabulary and understanding about the world. This will also help with the child’s cognitive development and perception.
Improved Language Skills
If you read to your infant or young child every day, it will help them develop language, communication, social, and literacy skills. This is because reading to them early on stimulates the part of the brain that allows them to comprehend language, which in turn helps them develop essential language, literacy, and social skills.
The study found that reading at home with children from an early age was strongly correlated with brain activation in areas connected with visual imagery and understanding the meaning of language.
Cognitive and critical thinking skills are very important, because according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than a third of American children do not have the skills they need to learn to read before they start kindergarten. By the end of the third grade, about two thirds of children are not able to read proficiently.
In addition to a child being able to learn vocabulary and language from those around him or her, introducing reading provides another benefit: it introduces the language of books. The language used in books is more descriptive and uses more formal grammatical structures than the language heard in daily life.
Prepare for Academic Success
Early reading with your child provides an opportunity for them to communicate with you and for you to communicate with them. By exposing them to new words and listening to them as you read, they will develop vital vocabulary and listening skills that will help them succeed academically.
In other words, a child’s success later in life is partially determined by their exposure to words at a young age.
Exposure to reading at a young age has been proven to have a positive impact on a child’s formal education. They are:
- Phonemic awareness – Being able to hear, identify, and play with individual sounds in spoken words.
- Phonics – Being able to connect the letters of written language with the sounds of spoken language.
- Vocabulary – The words kids need to know to communicate effectively.
- Reading comprehension – Being able to understand and get meaning from what has been read.
- Fluency (oral reading) – Being able to read text accurately and quickly.
You can help your child become a successful reader by reading to them during their infancy and early toddler years.
At that stage, they won’t be able to practice fluency or phonics, but they will get an earlier introduction to phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, which will set them up for success as they grow and interact with the world around them.
What is the Importance of Stories in Child Education?
Reading with children can help to create a love of reading for life. According to multiple studies, reading for pleasure is correlated with higher academic achievement in every subject, not just English.
The benefits of reading with children for their education are wide-ranging:
Improved Literary Skills
It is beneficial for children to be read to aloud, even if they cannot yet understand the full context of the words, as this helps them develop the skills needed to read independently later on. This includes left-to-right processing and turning pages. Furthermore, reading to young children can support language acquisition and brain development relating to language processing.
More Extensive Vocabulary
Children can learn new words by hearing them spoken aloud. If you read to a child every day, they will learn new words every day.
If you read to your child regularly, it can help them focus better and improve their listening skills—both of which are important for school.
Higher Levels of Creativity and Imagination
When we read a book, we have to use our imagination to picture the characters, their environment, and what might happen next. We need to be able to imagine other people, places, things, and times if we want to learn about them. When we develop our imagination, we become more creative because we can use the ideas in our heads to make new things.
If you want your child to be good at reading, have them read often. The more they read, the better they’ll become at it. Additionally, reading will help them do better academically and socially.
How to Read with Your Child
Both parents and children can enjoy reading aloud together. Additionally, teachers should encourage reading aloud regularly, both at school and at home.
How Parents Can Read with Their Child
If you read with your child at home, then you are supplementing what they learn in the classroom as well as giving them additional one-on-one support that the classroom cannot give. To have successful and effective reading sessions, consider the following:
A child can understand real-world objects and the importance of language even when they are an infant. You should read aloud to your child and point to pictures on the page, saying the name of the objects that appear. Even when your child can read themselves, you should still read aloud together.
Make It Part of Your Routine
It’s important to read to your child every day, and to be consistent about it. Make it part of both your daily routines until it becomes a habit, like brushing teeth. If you miss a day, don’t worry; just pick up the routine again when you can.
It’s important to read a variety of books to your child. This will introduce them to different worlds, cultures, and characters, and help their imagination grow.
Sometimes, as adults, we can forget what it was like to be a child and how we learned to read. It’s important to be patient with children who are learning to read, because as adults we take reading for granted. For example, a child does not know to read from left to right until an adult points it out. They also might not realize that each scribble on a page represents a word. So if a child is having trouble understanding, it’s important to take your time and be patient.
Continue the Discussion
Once you have read a story to your child, think about ways to keep the story going. Depending on the age of your child, you could ask questions about what they have just read. For example, “Did you enjoy the story?”, “Who was your favorite character?” or “Why do you think the prince was happy at the end?” However, don’t feel like you have to have this conversation after every single story you read. If your child enjoys the book, it will develop a love of reading anyway.