Reading to your child is one of the most effective way to build the “language” neural connections in his growing brain as well as the strong base for his cognitive development.
A study was made in Rhode Island Hospital to compare two groups of eight months old – one group was read to often as babies, while the other was not. It was shown that those who were read to have their “receptive” vocabularies (number of words they understand) increased 40 per cent since babyhood, while the non-reading group increased by only 16 per cent.
A study published in 2019 that involves MRI images of children’s brain shows that taking away screens and reading to kids younger than 5 boost brain development. The MRI images indicates an increase in organized white matter that is involved in developing language and ability to learn.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, recognizing this, released guidelines that advise parents to start reading to your child from infancy.
According to Pamela High, the lead author of the policy statement: “Reading to children and with children is a very joyous event and a way of fostering a relationship, as well as [helping] language development. And we don’t have to wait until we’re getting them ready for school. We can make it part of regular routine.”
Reading to your child does not only benefit his language development. It is only one among other very important benefits:
- Reading to your kid makes you bond with him, and this gives your child a sense of intimacy and well-being. This feeling of intimacy will not only make your child feel close to you, the feeling of being loved and getting attention also helps him to grow smart.
- The intimacy of reading to your kid is such a pleasurable experience to him that he will have a positive attitude towards reading as he grows up.
- It calms your child, especially when he is fretful and restless.
- It promotes increased communication between you and your child.
- Preschool children who are exposed to language by hearing words that are read to him and in conversation tend to do well in school.
- Many studies show that students who love learning and do well in school were exposed to reading before preschool.
- Your baby learns early the basics of reading a book, that words represent sounds and concepts, words are read from left to write, and stories continue when you flip the page.
- It promotes longer attention span, which is an important skill for your kid to be able to concentrate.
- It builds listening skills and imagination.
- Your young child learns about colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, while your older child discovers an expanding chain of knowledge. His interest in cars, for example, will expand to his interest in trucks, and other transportation like planes and rockets, and soon he will be reading about outer space, science and technology, and so forth.
- A study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in January 2013 concluded that “reading to a child in an interactive style raises his or her IQ by over 6 points.”
- Books teach your child thinking skills early. When you read to your child, he learns to understand cause and effect, he learns to exercise logic, as well as think in abstract terms. He learns the consequences of actions, and the basics of what is right and wrong.
- Books teach your child about relationships, situations, personalities, and what is good and what is bad in the world he lives in. Fantasy books provide material for his imagination and free play. Fairy tales fascinate your kid, and help him distinguish between what is real and what is not.
- When your child reaches a new stage in his growth, or experiences a new and unfamiliar situation, reading to your child about a story relevant to his new experience can relieve his anxiety and help him cope. For example, if your child is stressed about his first day in school, or about moving to a new location, you can read a book to him that shows that these should not be painful experiences.
- According to a study published in Pediatrics, children who had been exposed to home reading showed significantly greater activation of a brain area that is “all about multisensory integration, integrating sound and then visual stimulation,” according to Dr. John S. Hutton, the lead author and a clinical research fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Reading to your child build brain networks that will serve him long-term when he transitions from verbal to reading.
- Your child learns early that reading is fun and not a chore. When your child grows up, you will not be stressed about getting him to read, as reading has become, for him, a pleasurable habit. Reading to your child influences him to be a lifetime reader – and reading has so many benefits!
See also the list of 101 best children’s books of all time by age
Here are some tips to remember on reading to your kid so he will grow up a reader:
- Apply techniques for reading to children to make it interactive, thought-provoking, exciting, and educational.
- Make your child an active participant in the reading.
- Also, use age-appropriate strategies on reading to your child. Reading to your kids with different ages presents new opportunities and challenges.
- Since your kid imitates your behavior, let him see you read books. Let him know that reading is a part of life!
- Let your child feel that reading a book with him is a pleasurable and enjoyable experience, and not a stressful activity that you are forcing him to do.
- Form a habit of reading to him at the same time each day, or at least several times a week. Choose a time when you and your child are both relaxed and not rushed.
- Choose books that your kid will be most interested in, and appropriate for his age. A young child likes colorful drawings and pictures of people.
- To help your child understand that letters and words are symbols that are used to communicate, run your finger under the print but don’t force your child to follow your finger. Also, consider teaching your child to read early using this step-by-step guide
- Sometimes, your kid likes a particular book and wants to read it repeatedly. Do not discourage this, since he finds reading this book pleasurable – and pleasure is what he should get from reading! Also, he is getting the most out of this book and is giving you a hint about his interest!
- Expose your kid though to a variety of books.
- You can use reading as a way to allay your child’s fears or prepare him for changes in his life. For example, you can choose books about using the potty, going to school, or moving to a new house when he is about to have these new experiences.
- Teach your child to treasure books and treat them with respect – keeping them clean and in good condition.
- Surround your kid with books. Keep books where your kid can easily reach them so he will be able to browse them by himself.
- Take books to read to your child on long trips and places where you have to wait like the doctor’s office.
Further reading: See Raising a Reader: How to make your child love reading
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