Written by Jessica Rose
From the very beginning, we are told how important it is to read to your kids, even before they know how to speak. But why is it important? What is it about reading that is so important to their development? Which baby and toddler books are the best?
We all know reading is an important step to learning. When children know how to read they are a step closer to understanding concepts and topics. It is crucial to school success. But why read to your kids at a very young age? Here is our list of reasons why reading to your kids is so important.
- It helps them understand the world around them. No matter how young a child is, there are big benefits to reading to them. Though they may not be able to speak just yet, books with pictures help them identify the world around them. By showing them various objects in a story and saying their names, you are encouraging their speech. Just the sound of your voice is soothing and interesting to them. When you are reading to them, you are teaching them very important skills. They learn about the rhythm and the sound of language as well as allowing them how to develop their listening skills. There is so much they can learn when you read to your children. They learn about animals, numbers, colors, the list goes on infinitely. They also read about how people interact with one another, how they handle conflict or how they overcame an adversity. If there is something that your little one is worried about, chances are that there is a book about it. The first day of kindergarten jitters? Read First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg. Having problems potty training? Potty by Leslie Patricelli is a great board book to read.
- It inspires imagination. There is something about how magically a book can become. They bring us to far away places. Places we could only dream of. They take us across the world and through outer space. Books are truly amazing. When you read to your child, you are inspiring their imagination. They are learning to create their own ideas in their mind. Imagination is so important to child development. When hearing the words “creative thinking and problem-solving skills,” what that really means is using their imagination. When people have a wonderful sense of imagination, they are able to solve problems in ways that others may not have thought of. Reading books to your child helps provide them with opportunities to get inspired. Continue this type of thinking by providing toys that help with their imaginative play. A fun toy that can help encourage imagination is Learning Resources New Sprouts Camp Out! They can pretend they are on a great and wild camping trip in the big outdoors.
- Reading helps enhance social skills. How? You may be asking. Reading to your child helps them work on their focusing and concentration skills. They start to learn that they need to sit down, be quiet and listen if they want to hear how the story ends. Not only do your children learn about this aspect but many stories that they listen to or that is interesting to them have elements of peer conflict. By reading about these different social cues and conflicts and then seeing how they worked it out at the end is truly helpful for children. It helps show them how to interact with one another and what an appropriate response would be, for instance, if they were mad. There are many children’s books out there that talk about how to manage their own emotions. Children are still learning about how they feel and how to use their self-control as well as self-regulate these emotions. Reading to them not only creates a safe environment for them to learn these skills but they also learn about relationships interact with one another. The book, Millie Fierce by Jane Manning, is about a little girl who feels invisible and she decides she wants to be noticed. So, she does things to get attention, though it may be bad attention. This book teaches children that not all attention is good attention. The learn the lessons of being kind and why it is so important.
- Reading helps strengthen your bond and can be calming. Families today are so incredibly busy. We are running from activity to the next, without really enjoying our time together. The years move fast when your children are young so this is the time to really make long-lasting memories. A great way to do this is by making reading to your children a tradition or part of routine every night. After the end of a long day, shut down all the electronic devices and spend some time reading to your little ones. It is a great way to end the day. They get to listen to your voice, spend quality time with you and you get to read them a fun story. They know that no matter how crazy the day was, they can count on a story before bed. Giving them this sense of routine can be very calming, especially if there are big changes headed within the family such as moving or anticipating a new baby. A good night time book to check out is Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin. This book not only is very calming to read before bed but it helps children to practice mindful breathing and calmness. Out of all the expensive toys that they may get, their favorite memory may just be those times when it was just you and them with a good book.
- It helps develop empathy. Not only is good for children to have empathy but studies have shown that people who are more empathetic are also pretty successful. Empathy is the ability to not only recognize someone else’s feelings but the ability to put themselves in that situation and really understand where the other person is coming from. Empathy is such a crucial skill for children to learn because it helps them create stronger relationships and bonds with those closest to them. It also helps them learn how to be tolerant of other people as well as it is just plain good mental health. So how does reading help with this? Reading helps improve their emotional intelligence. Reading helps children connect with the human experience. The different characters in a story help a child understand different viewpoints. They are able to put themselves in another person’s shoes which is exactly what empathy is. Especially stories that are fiction, when they are reading they begin to understand why a character feels the way that they do and their motivation. They begin to not just understand these fictional character’s perspectives but then apply it to real life. This is a very important skill for children and even adults to have. Successful adults in management positions have strong empathy skills because they can easily cue in on people’s motivations. They know how to get people to accomplish tasks efficiently. There are many wonderful books that teach children about empathy. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes is one of our favorites. A book with a message for young kids about the importance of empathy and kindness.
- They teach about diversity and other people’s cultures. Books are like mirrors and windows to the amazing world that is out there. Everyone lives differently and when children learn how wonderfully diverse it is, the better tolerant and kind adults they become. When you are reading to your children, choose books that teach them about this. Books that are not part of your own culture will help them get a glimpse into another person’s world and perspective. When children are read to, they are able to even put themselves in the main character’s shoes. Children can learn such a multitude of things just on being read to. They can learn how different families around the world celebrate their own holidays to even how someone in their own country may live in a differently than they do. Reading to your kids can be such a magically thing! Not only can books open up to a world with unique and different cultures but they may also learn about their own identities. Through books, they can see that someone of their own background, sex or culture can be whoever they want to be in this world. They can be doctors, astronauts and so much more. Reading to your children can help inspire their own passions and future goals. A book that talks about diversity for young children is The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler, which is simple for a very young child to understand and a wonderful read about the importance of acceptance.
- It helps give them an edge at school. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents to read out loud to their children from the time they are born. They suggest making books easily accessible to them. Put them everywhere, not just in their room. Keep them in their playroom, in a basket in the living room and even the bathroom if they are potty training. When children are surrounded by books and exposed to them at a young age, go on to do better in school. They are able to concentrate and pay attention better – skills needed when they start kindergarten. Children also have a better vocabulary and are able to pick up on reading a lot quicker. Reading to your kids is helping them ensure success in school. Reading is so critical in every aspect of their learning that if they fall behind, it is hard for them to pick up the rest of the concepts. If you are looking for a fun book to read that helps them get ready for school, we recommend How to Get Your Teacher Ready by Jean Reagan. This is a funny story and helps your child get excited about school.
- Reading is a great form of entertainment. Today’s children are so consumed with electronics and gaming devices. They almost forget how to entertain themselves without having to plug into something. Reading is a spectacular form of entertainment. It is never ending and there is just so much to discover when you are reading. It is something that you can do for hours on end. Not only is it fun, but this is a form of entertainment that all parents can get behind. Inspire your children’s love of reading. Remember that the fact that they are reading should be celebrated. Inspire their love of reading. Do this by providing books on subjects that interest them. If they are into baseball, pick books about baseball. Even comic books are a great choice. This gets them to love reading. When they have the love to read, then everything else falls in place. Reading is a much better hobby than playing on tablets, video games or sitting watching T.V. all day.
Now that you know all the benefits of reading to your child and why it is so important, how can you implement these reading habits? Making it a routine! Every night before bedtime or before they go down for a nap, take the extra time to sit quietly and read to them. It is a perfect way to transition into sleepy time. These will become the moment that both of you will truly treasure and look fondly back on. Also, the best way to get them to love reading is by reading yourself. Parents need to lead by example. Let them see you read and talk about the books you love. Children always want to do what their parents are doing! Remember that reading to your child it is never too late or too early to start!