Reading to children is the single most important thing you can do to contribute to their future reading success. Reading aloud directly influences your child’s perception of how exciting and fulfilling books can be!
By sharing the magic of reading with your child, you can help develop their interest in learning to read and, later, mastering it!
This article will tell you what you need to know about why reading to children is so important and how it helps them grow, as well as offer some fun, easy ways to incorporate reading aloud into your family’s routine.
The Benefits Of Reading To Children
The biggest benefit of reading aloud to your child is simple and effective: it allows you to share a bit of joy.
Regularly reading to your child allows you to connect, share stories, and make memories with one another. It’s an activity you can share starting from as early on as their newborn days. Plus, it’s an easy, effective way to bond — you can read to your child almost anywhere, anytime.
Reading to your child shows your affection for them, while also demonstrating how easy books are to love. Children will connect reading with the love and joy they feel tucked up next to you, chatting and expanding their imagination.
As a parent, you stand to benefit, too. You’ll learn more about your child’s interests — what excites them about reading and learning. What do they want to learn more about? What things are going on in their world that might open up some ideas for exploration?
For example, if your young child loves trucks and getting messy in the mud, maybe driving by a construction site to see those machines in action will excite them.
For an older child, maybe a silly story about space exploration encourages them to check out a nonfiction book about astronauts.
All of this exploring can take place because of the safe space you’ve created with your child. Having your sacred reading time together assures them that there will always be a time when you can come together, connect, and share whatever is on your mind.
Stimulates The Imagination
Scientists have long studied the effects of reading aloud to children. And there’s a world of benefits to derive from even a few minutes of reading to children each day!
It’s been found that when children listen to stories, the area of their brains associated with visual imagery and story comprehension lights up. This means that every time you sit down to read to your child, you’re helping their brain develop!
Aside from the fact that reading is loads of fun, you can also take comfort in knowing that reading to children directly impacts their minds for the better!
Encourages Emotional And Social Development
Children learn from their parent’s reactions to stories. They’ll look to you for clues on how they should feel about plot points as well as the characters’ actions, decisions, or the choices they may have to make.
Your child’s emotional range will develop as they’re exposed to the complicated scenarios and moral dilemmas that books explore. They’ll gauge your emotions to understand their own feelings.
As their parent, you’re there to guide them through these feelings and offer some insight into why certain stories might make your child feel specific ways.
Does the story you’re reading together explore friendship? Does it talk about the importance of sharing or the power of their imagination?
No matter what the context is, reading to your child will allow you to tackle these new adventures together. You’ll help them develop a sense of empathy as they imagine what the characters are feeling.
You can encourage them to think about what they might do in a similar situation. They can even think about what the characters in a book would do if they lived your child’s everyday life. How would things be different?
Exploring imaginary scenarios like this will help your child’s emotional capacity flourish, not to mention it will allow you to bond over your shared feelings about the things you read (and the world beyond!).
Shows Real-World Connections
Learning about their feelings isn’t where the adventure stops. In fact, it only just begins with exploring emotions of sadness, happiness, anger, or excitement!
Reading to children directly contributes to the development of their knowledge base. As they explore new worlds and characters, they may make connections between different subject matters, events, and characters.
They may naturally begin to compare and contrast the things they learn. How are these things alike or different? What would happen if you took the events from one story and mixed them with the characters of another?
Encouraging your child to make these connections helps them understand how to search for familiarity in new subjects. It also teaches them to group things that are similar or different.
For example, maybe you and your child read a book about Antarctica. They may comment on how polar bears are covered with fur to stay warm.
You can stimulate their curiosity by asking, “If polar bears stay warm with fur, how do you think penguins keep warm, especially in the chilly water? Should we find out?”
You can also make personal connections to a story to help your child understand more about their world. You can get this process jump-started by saying, “Look! That goldfish looks just like yours! I wonder if they have the same name.”
Or, you could say, “This character has the same eye color as you. What color is that again?”
Anything that helps them make a real-world connection between the book they’re reading and their own life can prove helpful in boosting their reading comprehension and general knowledge.
Expands Vocabulary And Concentration
Reading to children is one of the most effective ways to establish a reliable, consistent avenue for learning new vocabulary.
New words mean so many things to your child: new ways to express themself, new ways to articulate what they already know or want to know, and so much more!
You can help your child with new words if they’re curious about a word’s meaning. How else can this word be used? Does it sound a lot like another word (the tricky world of homophones)?
Reading to children also encourages a developing sense of concentration. They’ll build up endurance when it comes to reading and be able to focus on the task at hand for longer periods of time.
The more you read together, the more their propensity for concentration will grow. This means you can have even more time reading together, exploring, imagining, and bonding!
Incorporating Reading Into Your Family’s Routine
The earlier you begin, the easier it is for your child to form a positive relationship with reading. It will become something they look forward to!
You may not think reading to a newborn is beneficial, but it is. Consider creating a reading habit with your child as soon as possible and that habit will stick with them for life!
Change It Up
Keeping a variety of subjects handy in your child’s reading selection will increase their background knowledge of many things. They’ll be exposed to a lot of information, which will help them make associations with familiar things even when reading about new subjects.
Reading books in different genres is one way to help your child “mix it up.” They’ll learn about the differences between fiction and nonfiction, as well as all the different subjects that exist beneath each umbrella.
Rereading Is OK, Too!
Rereading has its benefits, too! In fact, it can be a great asset to your child’s reading routine.
At HOMER, we encourage rereading, as it gives your child an opportunity to dive a little bit deeper into a text they’re familiar with. They may find something in the story they missed before, or it may spark a new interest that’ll lead to their next reading adventure.
Rereading also helps your child develop their reading skills. They may begin to memorize familiar stories and, before you know it, they’ll start reading on their own!
Discuss What You Read
Be sure to ask questions before, during, and after you read to your child to model excitement and curiosity.
After all, reading is about the pursuit of knowledge. Wanting to know more about what they’re reading is a natural and wonderful thing for a child!
Scale Reading To Your Child’s Level
Learning to read isn’t about advancing as quickly as possible. In fact, reading a book above your child’s reading level may make it more difficult for them to learn.
Make sure you find your child’s reading level so you know the best place to start. Even though you have the advantage of being a fluent reader, reading a more advanced book to your child may be difficult for them to comprehend.
For example, reading a nonfiction book about how combustion train engines work may fly right over your emerging reader’s head (even if they love trains!).
Instead, we recommend sticking to simple and engaging books. This ensures they understand the words you’re reading. From there, you’ll be able to work your way up to more complex books.
Look to your child for clues about whether or not a book is right for them. If you think they seem a bit confused or unfocused, that book may be better saved for another day.
Reading To Children Fosters A Love Of Learning
Children learn at different rates, but they all benefit from hearing books read aloud to them. Especially when the reader is someone they love!
But we know there are some days when your family’s schedule is a little too packed to get in that one-on-one time. In a pinch, HOMER is always here to help! Nothing can replace reading to children, but we’re happy to lend a supporting hand to parents whenever they need it.
Our Learn & Grow app has a whole section devoted to stories!
Here, your child will find stories of every sort — fiction and nonfiction, humorous and serious, classics and original tales — all read aloud to them. You can also use the Read It Myself option to read a special selection aloud to your child.