A child’s reading skills are important to their success in school, work and life. And it is undeniable that reading to your child has a wide range of benefits for their development and well-being. Here are some of the top reasons why you should start reading to your child from an early age:
1) Boosts language development and and literacy skills
Reading to your child exposes them to new words and language structures, which can enhance their vocabulary and language skills. It also helps to develop their literacy skills, such as phonemic awareness, fluency, and comprehension.
It is also interesting to note that the ‘language of books’ differs from language heard in daily life. Written texts are usually more descriptive, tend to include a wider range of vocabulary and contain more formal grammatical structures.
2) Supports cognitive development
Cognitive development refers to how children think, explore, learn, remember, and solve problems. When you read to your child, it provides them with background knowledge of their young world, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear, and read.
A simple example is when a baby gets exposed to the word ‘horse’ in a story book by hearing the word being phonetically spoken, and seeing a visual of the horse in the book. In a matter of seconds, thousands of cells in this child’s growing brain respond. Some brain cells are ‘switched on’, triggered by this particular experience, which will remain largely in place for the rest of this child’s life. In the future, when he hears the word ‘horse’ or sees a horse in real life for the very first time, he is likely to be able to identify what animal it is, without even being prompted. This valuable skill of object recognition is one of the many cognitive milestones that reading fosters.
3) Increases concentration and discipline
Young children rarely sit still for long, and it is often difficult to get them to focus. But when you introduce regular reading to your child, you may start to observe a change in behavior. Toddlers may initially squirm and become distracted during story time, but consistently making it a habit to read daily, even if it’s just 1-2 pages of a book, will go a long way in improving their focus and attention span.
4) Prepares children for academic success
Early literacy is a core component of education and is crucial for independent learning and academic success. Studies have shown that “the more words that are in a child’s language world, the more words they will learn, and the stronger their language skills are when they reach kindergarten, the more prepared they are to be able to read, and the better they read, the more likely they will graduate from high school”
Children with poor reading skills are more likely to repeat a grade, which too often sets the stage for a pattern of failure in school and even in later parts of their lives.
5) Stimulates imagination and creativity
Reading to your child can help stimulate their imagination and creativity by exposing them to new ideas and perspectives.
Reading also helps children (and even adults!) practice imagination by letting the words describe a certain image while the reader manipulates the picture in the mind. This practice strengthens the mind as it acts like a muscle. By widening your child’s imagination, your child is more likely to dream bigger and act creatively which can benefit them at school, work, and life in the future.