In all my life I have never met a child who doesn’t enjoy being read to. I can still remember sitting on the green shag carpet in Mrs. Beirl’s classroom, listening as she read us our first chapter books. There’s certain kind of simple sweetness that comes with reading to children. Their eyes light up, their imagination takes hold, and for a short time they even manage to sit still and pay attention! Making children happy isn’t the only reason one should read to them, although it is a good one! Reading aloud to kids significantly enhances their social, emotional, and academic development. The earlier you begin reading to your child, the better. Here are some ways story time can help your child grow.
Spending quality time with your child is key to forming a happy, healthy relationship with them. When one gets into the habit of reading to their children it becomes a routine. As I’ve stated in earlier posts, routines help with establishing trust and stability. Reading to one’s child allows the both of them to slow down after a busy day and cuddle up with a book. Cuddling is a very nurturing activity that builds self-esteem as well as their sense of safety. And come on, who doesn’t love a good cuddle?
Children strengthen their speech and hearing by listening to others read to them. Toddlers will even begin to mimic different word sounds or “pretend read” books, which is an important pre-literacy skill. Eventually they will even begin to sound out words on their own. Pretend reading also highlights the basics of books by teaching children the difference between words and images and that English is read from left to right
I would like to clarify that pretend reading is not the same as pretending to read. As a child, I would carry around the book Jane Eyre in an effort to convince all of my classmates that I was smarter than them. So remember that there is a difference between toddlers sounding out nonsensical words and kindergarteners carrying around The Great Gatsby. Pretend writing can also take place in the form of doodling and letter arrangement. My cousin’s kids love practicing pretend writing all over the walls of their bedrooms. I would caution parents with children in this stage to explain that there is a difference between walls and paper.
By listening to stories and different experiences children are able to better grasp social dynamics. They begin to relate scenarios in books to events in their own lives. This will help them recognize cause and effect as well as utilize good judgment. When children are transitioning from one stage in their lives to another or experience stressful situations, sharing relevant stories can help put their worries at ease. Reading aloud to children increases their attention span and memory retention while strengthening their self-discipline.
It’s true that reading to children is fun, easy, and a great way to bond, but it is also so much more than that. Children who are read to are better prepared for school and new experiences. So what are you waiting for? Pick up a book and read to your child today!