As a parent, substitute teacher, and former elementary school librarian, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of reading aloud to young children from birth to age 5. It’s become my personal mission to help parents see the impact they can have when they spend a little bit of time each day reading aloud with their children. Beginning at birth, a child who is read to begins to enjoy the benefits. Because these benefits don’t reveal themselves right away, I call them the “hidden benefits of reading aloud.” The success of students in school can be directly related to what happens at home in the birth to age 5. It all starts with the benefits from one little four-lettered word: READ.
New parents, have you ever wondered when you should start reading to your newborn?
Kuddos to those who may have even started in-utero!
When our children are little, it’s hard to see the benefits of reading aloud to them because the true benefits develop slowly over time. Have you found yourself wondering, “are kids too little or too hard on books to really make prioritizing reading aloud worth it?” Let’s face it, when they’re toddlers, we sometimes end up chasing them around with a book just trying to get them to sit still! But, have faith! All of that reading with your children is definitely worth it!
Hidden Benefit #1: Reading Aloud TO a Young Child Creates a Magnificent Bond
Children love the cozy feeling all snuggled up with an adult, listening to your voice. Your little one may even coo back at you! Besides, what else can you do with a newborn?
As your child grows into toddler and pre-k years they will know no different. Sitting with you and listening will become the norm. You are also showing your children just how important they are by taking time out to read with them daily. Money can’t buy happiness, but reading with your child sure can. Think of this as your #happyplace!
Hidden Benefit #2: Reading Aloud from Birth Creates a Reading Culture in Your Family
When you take time to read aloud to your baby, you instill a powerful lifelong habit in them. Just like brushing your teeth before bed, reading becomes part of their routine. Children are more likely to enjoy learning in school if they’ve had countless questions answered at home during story-time.
By creating a reading culture in your family, you give your child a strong foundation for his or her future in school and in life!
Hidden Benefit #3: Reading Aloud Encourages Children to Ask Questions Which Increases Their Love of Learning
Answering questions validates a child’s desire to learn. Parents, when you encourage questions, the conversations you have asking and answering questions encourages language development and creates a learning environment!
TIP: Ask your child questions while reading to get them talking and comfortable answering questions. This will also give you insight into their reading comprehension.
Hidden Benefit #4: Reading Aloud When Your Child is 0-5 Years Old Helps Them Develop Skills for Attention and Focus.
When they’re used to listening and engaging with a story, children enter Kindergarten excited to learn. In school, your child will be accustomed to both listening and discussing books. Students are more likely to respect their teachers if they have given that same respect to their parents during reading time at home.
Hidden Benefit #5: Reading aloud to your child from birth helps develop a wide range of vocabulary.
In the beginning, reading may simply be a way to engage with your young child through books and stories. As you read more and more, your child will begin to become more aware of sounds and words. They’ll begin to recognize that letters and sounds go together. Ultimately, by reading a wide variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction, you’ll help your child develop a broad vocabulary. As they become more and more curious, they’ll want to learn more words and become eager to hear more stories.
Hear it from an expert:
In March 2013, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research introduced research that showed that children four to five years of age who are read to three to five times a week are six months ahead of their peers in terms of reading acumen. Those children who are read to daily are a year ahead of those who are read to less frequently. (WOW!)
Hear it from a Mom:
With both children now in high school, Laurie recalls, “I would read books, upon books, upon books, and I know that by reading to them even before they could hold their little heads up instilled a love of listening, learning, and stories.”
Just like anything worth doing, it takes consistency and commitment to see the positive long-term benefits of reading aloud from birth to age 5! Along the way, you get to bond, learn and enjoy growing through books together!
As parents, you are your child’s first everything, including teacher. Early readers are armed with the vocabulary necessary to communicate to their peers and teachers. When you spend time reading aloud to your youngster, you are laying the foundation for the successes your child will have when they get to Kindergarten.
The national recommendation is to read aloud for fifteen minutes per day. Schedule it. Plan for it. Make time for it. Your child is depending on you, and I know that you can do it!
Raising Readers With You,