The Importance Of Reading To Children
Hi! Burton here. And this a follow-up to my October 5, 2019, post Teach Your Child To Read At Home. As promised in that post, here is The Importance Of Reading To Children.
There are many benefits to reading to your children. These include reinforcing the bonding between mother and father and the newly born baby. The bonding benefits flow both from and to parent and child. Because this is a website devoted to teaching children to read, I am not going to discuss bonding issues. Anyone interested in this bonding process can readily find that information with a simple Internet search. So, lets dip into the importance of reading to children from the perspective of the benefits to the child.
A RECAP OF BENEFITS FROM EARLIER POST
In my October 9th post I explained how important a child’s ability to read is in developing a child’s basic literacy, as the early development of literacy has proven to be the foundation for all future life-long development of your child. And, as discussed in this post, the earlier a child learns to read is a determinate element to developing a strong literacy level. Studies have also shown that there is no particular age limit before which a child can be taught to read. In other words, a good parent should undergo the role of teaching his or her child to read at the earliest age that child demonstrates a willingness and aptitude to learn to read, even if that child is 2 years old or younger or in the natal stage of growth. So now, into the reading breech.
MOST AUTHORITIES AGREE THAT THESE ARE THE MOST OBVIOUS BENEFITS
A review of the literature on the benefits a child gains from being read to and reading on his own reveals a general agreement of what those benefits are. I have sorted out commonly recognized benefits and list them here.
- Children who read often and widely get better at it
- Provides a positive reading model to your child
- Reading exercises a child’s brain and develops thinking skills.
- Reading improves concentration. …
- Reading teaches children about the world around them and helps them to make sense of what they hear, see and read
- Reading improves vocabulary and language skills by introducing children to a more descriptive and grammatical structure of language in books as opposed to language used in daily speaking
- Reading develops a child’s imagination and introduces them to books and types of literature a child would not find on his own
- Reading helps children to develop empathy in a child by exploring people, places, times and events
- Reading is pleasurable and fun
- Provides children and parents something to talk about and to be a bridge between a story and real life and can be a springboard for discussion of important ideas
how to pronounce words and encourages pre-literacy development and helps to expand a child’s vocabulary.
But there is one significant insight agreed with by most authorities and that is that reading aloud to children is the most crucial factor in building necessary knowledge in a child’s eventual success in reading. This includes reading to your child in the 6th month of prenatal stages of growth. Why is this?
Reading to your child on a daily basis helps develop language acquisition and literacy skills. This is one of the most effective ways to build and stimulate a part of your child’s brain that facilitates understanding the meaning of language and to build key cognitive language, literacy and social skills. Developing these neural connections in your child’s developing brain provides the unborn child with a foundation for language that builds recognition of speech patterns.
According to one study, 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 builds brain networks that will serve him long-term when he transitions from verbal to reading.
WHAT MAKES THESE BENEFITS SO IMPORTANT AND WHY THESE BENEFITS HAVE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES
Although this post is not about bonding, per se, I would be derelict if I did not point out that reading to your child makes you bond with him, and this gives your child a sense of intimacy and well-being. This feeling of intimacy will help your child to feel close to you and to feel loved. It will calm your child and help to alleviate feelings of fretfulness and restlessness.
The intimacy of reading to your child is a pleasurable experience. It will encourage your child to develop a positive attitude towards reading as he grows up. It will promote an increased communication between you and your child.
There are many benefits to prenatal reading to 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.
Reading to your child promotes longer attention span, which is an important skill for your child to be able use to concentrate. It builds listening skills and imagination. Reading teaches children about colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. 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 that help your child learn to understand cause and effect, to exercise logic, as well as think in abstract terms, and your child 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 child, and help him distinguish between what is real and what is not.
Another benefit occurs when your child reaches a new stage in his growth and 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.
YOUR ROLE AS A PARENT IN HELPING TO DEVELOP THESE BENEFITS
Parents have to be pro-active in teaching children to read, meaning if you don’t do it, no one will. So toughen up and put on the mantle of super teacher. In this process a child is basically a passive recipient of what the parent offers. You have to apply the tools of a teacher in simple and predictable patterns. In this way your child will come to relate to these activities in an eager and expectant manner. You must make this experience fun for your child. Here are some tips to remember when reading to your child:
- a) Apply techniques for reading to children to make it interactive, thought-provoking, exciting, and educational.
- b) Make your child an active participant in the reading.
- c) use age-appropriate strategies on reading to your child. Reading to your child at different ages presents new opportunities and challenges.
- d) Let your child see you read books. Let him know that reading is a part of life! Children imitate their parents. You are their model.
- e) 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.
- f) 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.
- g) Choose books that your child will be most interested in, and appropriate for his age. A young child likes colorful drawings and pictures of people.
- h) 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.
- i) Sometimes, your child 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!
- j) Expose your child through reading to a variety of books.
- k) 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.
- l) Teach your child to treasure books and treat them with respect – keeping them clean and in good condition.
- m) Surround your child with books. Keep books where your child can easily reach them so he will be able to browse them by himself.
- n) Take books to read to your child on long trips and places where you have to wait, like the doctor’s office.
THE DELICATE RESPONSIBILITY THAT BEING A “GOOD” PARENT HAS ON DEVELOPING A CHILD’S FUTURE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
As I previously pointed out, it is as a parent that you will set up your child to succeed or fail in developing the reading skills that build literacy skills needed for having a successful life. To make this process easier for your child, you will need to learn new skills. Once you understand the benefits to your child applying these newly learned skills and techniques, you come to appreciate your responsibilities. These are not tools that parents are born knowing and having. You will have to devote time and energy in adapting to your new role. Do not hesitate to reach out to others for help in this area. As I have tried to explain, this process begins prenatal and continues during the important period of your child’s growth and development prior to his entering the more formal education process beginning with kindergarten or first grade. By now you should understand that this is your job and should not be left to the organized school system.
HOW DO YOU ANSWERTHE QUESTION “AM I A ‘GOOD’ PARENT?”
This is a very important question. But I am only posing it in terms of your commitment to encouraging and teaching your child to read. This is not a judgmental question. It is intended only to help you, as a parent, to evaluate how you approach this essential aspect of parenting. You cannot answer this question unless you have understood your role in helping your child to learn to read AND the benefits to your child to learning to read early. Obviously, my posts are only an introduction to this vitally important aspect of your child’s development. It is offered as a doorway into what should be done and the benefits from doing these things. Exploring this subject together should help you to evaluate your own role in this process. Keep checking out my posts to explore this process together.
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Burton Green. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.