Reading to children is a long-established method for parents around the world to help nurture their child’s mind. It is considered one of the most important things any parent can do to contribute to their child’s development and future success. While it is important for them to learn to read independently, reading aloud to children helps them thrive. Here, we’ll look more closely at the many benefits of reading to children and discover the easiest and most effective ways to do it, as well as make it a bonding experience with your children.
For many children, being read to by their parents for playtime, for afternoon naps, or before bedtime is a precious ritual. But science says it’s actually more than that.
Benefits of Reading to Children
Here are some benefits of reading to children you may not know:
It Boosts Their Literary and Reading Skills
Most of a child’s brain development happens between birth and 5 years of age. During this period, the child is molded and developed biologically and mentally. Reading to young children engages a wide range of developmental skills like listening, motor control, familiarity with language, and conversational syntax.
One study shows how listening to stories activates the part of a child’s brain associated with visual imagery, word meaning, and comprehension. Another study shows children who are read to at least three times a week have significantly better phonemic awareness (the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds ─ phonemes ─ in spoken words) compared to children who were read to less.
Being read to in their early years boosts children’s fluency in verbal communication, spelling, and ability to read on their own. The more engaged they are with reading, the stronger literary and reading skills they will have. Being read to, especially when the child follows the book closely, allows a child to become familiarized with the words, letters, and sounds, which improves their vocabulary. Hearing words while seeing them on the pages of the book helps the child’s brain to associate the written words with their corresponding sound, prompting them to become independent readers themselves as they get older.
Subsequently, children with strong reading skills tend to have higher IQs when they get older. Being read to doesn’t only expand a child’s spoken vocabulary, it also promotes their reading and writing skills. This means they will learn to listen and read along at the same time, and more importantly, understand how to take this knowledge and apply it in their own storytelling, which is crucial for the optimal development of a child’s brain.
Reading to a young child while cradling them in your arms is a delight for any parent,but reading to your baby in the womb is also beneficial. This is because their ears are ready to hear by the third trimester. While outside sound is muffled to about 10 decibels inside the womb, babies can hear rhythm, melody, and other language patterns that become their foundation for speech.
It Improves their Grasp of the Language
Children form a better understanding of their language by being read aloud to. A child will become an active listener when engaged with the reader – they will learn to communicate with the reader and express their thoughts about the story instead of keeping ideas to themselves.
More importantly, engaging the child with “decontextualized” speech while reading aloud is a good way to get them more engaged with the story and develop their language. For example, if there’s a chocolate in the story, you can ask the child: “do you like chocolates too?” Short conversations like this keep the activity interesting for the child.
It Develops Focus and Discipline
Kids get distracted easily, and it is in their nature to be curious and explore. However, if you engage them by reading stories, they are more likely to concentrate on you. Kids see story time as a way to spend time and bond with you, and hearing your voice prompts them to listen and concentrate so they can absorb the story they are being told. Their eyes and mind are less likely to wander, especially if you read aloud and make things interesting with sounds, actions, and singing.
Learning to focus and being disciplined enough to listen is an important skill to have in school. This skill will help them to listen more attentively to their teachers and be more engaged in class.
It Improves Their Academic Performance
Kids who are read aloud to by their parents for as little as 15 minutes a day perform better in school, as they are prepared with the skills they need. Moreover, it boosts their confidence because they are already familiar with the words they are reading, helping them thrive in an academic environment.
It Stimulates Their Imagination
When listening to stories, children create the scenes of the stories in their minds. They use their imagination to visualize the heroes and other characters, the setting and the plot, identifying the adventures, misadventures, challenges, obstacles, and triumphs of the protagonist(s). This taps into the region of the brain associated with visual imagery and comprehension.
Reading opens up new worlds for children beyond their own. This is particularly effective if you make sounds, put on faces and voices, and use actions while reading aloud to your child. It makes the story more exciting and engaging.
It Facilitates Bonding Time
Of the many benefits of reading to children, this is probably the most important – being able to spend quality time with your child. It’s a great way to bond and connect. Most importantly, it’s one of the best ways to create memories that they can take with them as they grow.
Ways to Maximize the Benefits of Reading to Children
The benefits of reading to children cannot be overstated. While you can easily read their favorite story books to them, it would be even better if you learn how to make engaging stories of your own. Fortunately, there are tons of resources on the web to help you. There are even apps that make reading stories to your children more interactive. The more interactive your storytelling and reading is, the more beneficial it becomes for them.
Make sure to check out these apps and spend some quality time with your children, you both deserve it!