Parents have many priorities when it comes to their children, not the least of which are to keep them happy, healthy, and educated. With so many activities vying for children’s attention these days, it’s easy to overlook one of the most basic methods of promoting early literacy: reading to young children for 15 minutes a day.
Few dispute the benefits of reading aloud to young children, and there are many scientific and not so scientific reasons that reading to children is important. Here are 10 of the best reasons to make a habit of cracking open a book with your child on a daily basis:
- Reading sparks imagination. Adults who know the joy of getting lost in a good book understand the incredible power of story-telling through the written word. A well-written book stimulates your child’s imagination and creativity, which can help develop their lifelong sense of curiosity and play.
- Reading demands attention. Listening and being able to pay attention are prerequisite skills for preschool and kindergarten. To follow a story, children will learn to develop their ability to focus (for short periods of time, at least) and understand the events taking place within the story.
- Reading forces literacy. The more young children are exposed to language, the quicker they will begin to associate sounds to words and words to sentences and ideas. Hearing words read aloud from a book helps children begin to connect spoken language with written words and can trigger their desire to begin writing.
- Reading reinforces book-mechanics. Children watch how grown-ups hold books, read from left to right, and turn pages from the front of a book to the back. These simple rules are important reading skills that adults often to take for granted.
- Reading helps children sleep. Actually, solid bedtime routines help children sleep. Including at least 15 minutes of reading to children before bed will establish a series of events that a child can begin to associate with their evening activities. This stability and recurring routine is incredibly beneficial to a child’s health and development.
- Reading helps speaking. Listening to adults read provides an example for children to understand what proper speech sounds like. From speech patterns and pronunciation to voice inflection and sentence structure, children learn much of their speaking skills by listening to adults.
- Reading increases vocabulary. Hearing words read and used in context helps increase vocabulary at any age. Children learn through repeated exposure, so even reading the same story over and over again provides benefits to a young child’s language skills.
- Reading provokes critical thought. A well-selected story will challenge and expand a child’s mind, allowing them to experience life stories and events from the past, present, and future far removed from their day-to-day lives.
- Reading begets reading. Showing children that literacy is important makes it important to them as they grow and mature. In short, children become readers partly because their parents were readers. Parents can pass along a tradition of learning by making reading a habit.
- Teachers will thank you. Aside from the personal, developmental and early learning benefits, children who have been read to regularly enjoy increased vocabulary, better writing skills, and more ability to focus during class. But the benefits don’t stop there! Children who enjoy reading and learning excel in all school subjects, from language arts to science, from English to math.
There are many other reasons to involve your child in a regular reading routine, but be sure to include spontaneous reading opportunities, as well. Not only will they quickly see the value in the power of reading, you’ll provide a lasting educational benefit to your child for years to come.