The Benefits of Reading to Young Children
The Benefits of Reading to Young Children
There is a lot of research which evidences the benefits of reading to young children and the positive long-term impact this has on their reading and cognitive skills.
Evidence suggests that there is a clear correlation between those children who are read to more frequently and their language development and reading attainment when they reach school age.
As an adult, I have always enjoyed reading. When I think back to my childhood, I remember books being readily available, and my Mum was always willing to read them to me. I’ve adopted this same approach with my son.
Before my son was born, I would buy some of my favourite childhood stories which I knew would be suitable as my little boy grew. I think there is something so special about children’s books, from paperbacks to special editions.
At What Age Should You Read to Your Child?
When it comes to reading to your child, there is no such thing as too young. Even the youngest of babies find comfort in the rhythmic tone that is often present when you read aloud, similar to the effect that singing has on babies. As babies become more aware and responsive, their enjoyment of books and stories begins to grow.
My little boy has taken a massive interest in books in the last six months alone. When he was younger, he enjoyed looking at the pictures, but now he enjoys following the stories and will often recite aspects of his favourite books as I read to him.
Don’t be afraid to make up your own stories as well. I have done this many times, and I use the pictures from existing books as a way of providing context. I’ve found this helpful when some stories are a little too advanced for him, but the illustrations were too beautiful to ignore!
I genuinely believe that children aged around 18 months and older can have favourite stories that they want to go back to time and time again. Don’t shy away from reading the same story day in day out. I know from my experience that my little boy will often choose the same bedtime story. Even if it becomes repetitive for me, he seems to enjoy it more and more each time we read it.
Language Development from Reading
I think it’s important to remember that the language we use daily is often repetitive and doesn’t always expose children to new vocabulary and contexts.
Reading to your child at least once a day offers them the chance to learn new words that they may not otherwise come across. As well as learning new vocabulary, the illustrations found in books help children with their understanding of shapes, colours, animals and much more.
If you can, you should try encouraging your child to finish the last word of a sentence. A rhyming book or short story works best for this as children find it easier to follow the words. My little boy loves saying the last word of a sentence, and he becomes very excited and proud that he knows what word comes next.
Bring the Story to Life
Reading out loud to your child allows you to bring stories to life. I know that making funny noises or sounds and being a little bit silly isn’t something that we’re all comfortable with; however, immersing yourself into the stories and characters is what makes reading to your child so much more fun and engaging. We all remember those times when we were at school, sat on the carpet with wide eyes and being in awe of the teacher who captivated us.
How Often Should You Read to Your Child?
I don’t believe that there is a limit to how often you read to your child. Ideally, it would help if you read to your child at least once per day. Having a regular bedtime story is an easy place to start, and allowing your child to choose which story to read helps them to become excited about reading. You can then use this as a basis for increasing the number of times you read with your child.
Generally speaking, you should read to your child at any time they seem in the mood. If they stay engaged and want to read more, then keep those pages turning.
“The more you read, the more things you know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss
Great Books to Read to Your Child
My little boy is two-years-old, and we have started to build a collection of our favourites. Feel free to pour through our collection:
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
- The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr
- The Dinky Donkey, by Craig Smith
- Each Peach Pear Plum, by Janet and Allan Alhberg
- The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen
- Paddington at the Zoo, by Michael Bond
- Dogs, by Emily Gravett
- Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell