Reading to Children

Reading to children is one of the most important things parents can do, and this, from day one of life. Parents, grandparents and any other caregivers should read to and speak to babies and young children as much as they can.  Even reading the newspaper out loud to baby counts! NOTE:  Listening to the radio, computer or TV does not count.

Why is reading to young children important?

Aside from the benefits listed below, the number of words a growing baby hears by 3 years of age actually determines future school performance and success. In other words,  the more spoken words a baby hears, the better  the chances of doing well in school later in life!

Here are some of the additional  benefits of reading to children:

  • Language and speech development: Reading to a child makes it easier for him/her to develop speech. As a matter of fact, I recommend that parents read to children with is speech delays as part of the treatment.
  • Vocabulary and pronunciation: By looking at a picture in a book or a word and then hearing how it is pronounced out loud, children can learn new words along with their pronunciation.
  • Preparing for school: Children are ready to go to school when they can attend or listen to what someone else is saying, learn and participate in structured situations such as story reading and focus in and listen to one central person in the classroom. Reading to a child is great way to prepare a pre-schooler for the school environment. On a higher level, children will get used to hearing stories and following sentences. This will be very helpful when they start to learn about grammar and sentence structure.
  • Bonding time: Reading to a child is also an ideal opportunity for a parent to spend some time with their child. Reading time can be perceived as "their time!" I suggest that parents get down and spend time with their children at their level. Reading an interesting children's story to them accomplishes this.
  • Part of a routine: Reading to children before bed time becomes a nice pre-bed time ritual or routine. Children tend to have an easier time going to sleep if there is a set routine. For example: brushing the teeth, have a story read to them and then fall sleep.
  • Life-long benefits: As a children gets older, they will read on their own, building on the interest and experience of being read to for years. This sets off a life-long interest/aptitude in reading which comes in handy in any aspect of our lives especially during the formative school years right through college and beyond.

One of the potential modern day challenges parents are faced with relates to the "high-tech" revolution with the advent of computers, internet and video/computer games. Many will argue that these may cut into a child's reading time and interfere with parents reading to them. I think that kids need to become technology savvy, but parents can still accompany them while they work/read and learn on the computer or internet. However, parents should also make sure that they reserve time regularly to read a book to their kids, an old fashioned, yet still very beneficial thing to do!