Reading with our kids is an important activity to partake in on a daily basis. It helps to foster numerous skills that will provide a strong foundation for their school years and, more importantly, the rest of their lives. So let’s dive in and see how reading with kids in their early years impacts them and introduces a love of reading.
Early years and reading
Even in the first few months of life children experiment with language. The sounds they make are meant to mimic adult sounds they hear. They read facial cues and expressions, and gestures. In addition, they begin to make connections between the sound sequence of frequently heard words and what they reference. (NAEYC, 1998) As they grow they enjoy playing with board books and alphabet blocks. They also enjoy rhymes, songs, and fingerplays.
Impacts on Cognitive and Social Development
Reading aloud develops cognitive skills in young children by strengthening their understanding of themselves and the world around them. It bridges the gap between the story and their own lives. Additionally, reading with your kids helps them build the foundation for their language skills.
Matter of fact, reading, starting during infancy, aids in the development of language and literacy skills. This is because reading with kids during infancy activates the part of the brain that allows them to understand the meaning of language. It also helps to build language, literacy, and social skills. TIME published results of a study that showed brain scans showing there was a correlation between reading with kids and brain activation in areas connected to visual imagery and understanding the meaning of language.
Reading with Kids and Social Development
Reading with your kids also develops their social skills by strengthening their bonds with the most important people in their lives: you! Taking the time to read with children is quality time that is extremely beneficial to their development. The bond between parents and other primary caregivers and children set the tone for their ability to form and strengthen relationships throughout life.
Why is this important? One word: trust. Trust is extremely important to young children. Furthermore, reading with kids at a scheduled time gives you both something to look forward to. It gives them the confidence to know that you will be there for them, strengthening the trust and bond between you. When it comes to infants, reading aloud is also nurturing and reassuring. They enjoy hearing familiar voices and reading offers a prime time to build that bond.
Reading with Kids and What They Learn
As your child grows, reading with them remains an important part of their growth and development. Reading together not only builds reading and writing skills, but it also gives a segue into discussing real-life experiences and issues!!!
Parent: “Why do you think Tommy the Turtle is sad?”
Child: “Because his friends won’t let him play”
Parent: “Oh that is not very nice is it”
Child: “No, why won’t they let him play?”
Parent: “I don’t know… why don’t we find out?”
In that short conversation, the parent and child are talking about bullying and excluding others. Talk about a real-life topic!!! When you read with your kids you can bring the story to life in a way that allows for prime teaching moments like the one listed above!!! When you ask questions it allows your child to really engage in the story and the meaning/lesson the plot is exploring. Reading and language skills are not the only skills being developed here. Cognitive thinking and reading comprehension are being worked on as well!
Preparing for Academic Success
We all know it is difficult to get kids, especially toddlers, to sit down for a prolonged period of time. Dare I say, impossible! There is an added benefit to reading with kids other than skill development. Increasing their concentration and discipline. Crazy thought, right? Not at all. When you have scheduled reading time with your kids daily it becomes ingrained. Sure they will probably move around and try to get up and leave to go play in the beginning. I mean, it’s a big world out there. So much to go and explore! Eventually though, you start to see a change in behavior as they will learn to sit through the entire book! Amazing right!
Another added benefit to reading with young kids is their imagination and creativity. Children are born imagination machines, they dream big and believe that anything can be real; because when it comes to the imagination anything and everything goes! Reading out loud allows them to use their imagination to experience people, places, and events that extend beyond their own. How fun!
All of this builds a strong foundation for when they enter into their primary school years. Giving them the confidence to go out there and show what they know!
Life-Long Love of…
There are two things that can become life-long loves when you make reading with your kids a daily experience: reading and learning. Jim Trelease, author of “The Read-Aloud Handbook” says “Every time we read to a child, we’re sending a ‘pleasure’ message to the child’s brain… You could even call it a commercial, conditioning the child to associate books and print with pleasure”
Making the association between reading and pleasure is critical to lifelong learning. If you instill a love of reading at an early age, lifelong learning most often times follows. Reading to your kids invites them to take part in pleasant, valuable, and exciting experiences! They learn to value books and all they have to offer and eventually will continue to read on their own.
Reading with your kids is one of the most important activities that you can do with them! So get a book (or a few!), snuggle up, and enjoy the wonders of reading together!
“Importance of Reading to Your Children: Children’s Bureau.” Child Abuse Prevention, Treatment & Welfare Services | Children’s Bureau, 8 Jan. 2020, http://www.all4kids.org/news/blog/the-importance-of-reading-to-your-children/.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. “Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children A Joint Position Statement of the International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.” Young Children, vol. 53, no. 4, July 1998, pp. 30–46.
Worland, Justin. “Reading to Kids: Why Reading to Children Is Good for Their Brains.” Time, Time, 27 Apr. 2015, time.com/3836428/reading-to-children-brain/.