“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” (Anderson & Hiebert & Scott, 1985)
Sometimes it can feel impossible to get some quiet time with all the technology, after-school activities, and homework, but making time to read aloud to your child is well worth it.
Even if your infant is still at the stage of drooling on book covers and not staying still, there are still benefits of being read to, even if the babies are not yet at the stage to appreciate it!
Not only does reading together give you a chance to bond with each other while also strengthening your child’s language skills and imagination, but this simple act can also do so much more.
This article will discuss the benefits of reading aloud to your child and how it is essential to their learning development. We hope we can also give you some tips and tricks along the way so the process is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Child From a Young Age
Reading aloud has so many positive benefits that span across children of all ages. There is never a better time to get into the habit than when your child is in their infancy.
- Greater Language Development
- Building Thinking and Comprehension Skills
- Develop an Interest in Some Books
- Develop Good Listening Habits
- It Triples Their Resilience
- Learn Sight Words Faster
- Better Literacy Skills
- Learn Life Skills and Values
- Build a Deeper Connection with Your Child
Greater Language Development
One of the key benefits of reading aloud to your child is boosting their language development.
Even if your baby doesn’t yet know the alphabet, they still learn new words through repeated exposure.
According to research, children need a lot of exposure to the language. The average child knows 5000 words when they start school. That means children learn about 3.5 new words on average per day from one to five.
Hearing words and sentences used in context can help your child learn how language works. Reading books exposes children to unfamiliar words that they don’t hear in everyday conversation.
The roots of the language are still developing even if the baby can’t talk yet! The more the baby hears, the more they learn.
If anything else, your baby will enjoy the comforting sound of your voice and words!
Building Thinking and Comprehension Skills
Research has consistently shown that reading aloud to your child can help them build thinking skills and comprehension.
The more you read with your child, the better they will understand words and sentences on their own as they develop.
Whether you read books with a moral or a task to solve, your child can do some critical thinking independently.
Even if they aren’t yet talking or becoming independent readers, this gives you a chance to encourage their curiosity and think about new ideas.
That is especially beneficial during the early school years, as it can help them understand and process new information better. If your child is old enough, invite them to summarise the story for added benefits. A preschool or kindergarten student will enjoy retelling and dramatizing stories, which improves comprehension and language development (Cornell, Sénéchal, & Brodo, 1988; Pellegrini & Galda, 1982).
Develop a Love for Reading
Books help kids learn about the world around them, and what more fantastic way to pass the time than with a good storybook.
Even if your child doesn’t understand the story or cannot read yet, reading aloud helps them develop an interest in books from a young age (Mooney, 1990).
Encourage them to read with their favorite books. A one-year-old baby may enjoy board books with bright, illustrated pictures of familiar objects. A preschooler may enjoy listening to rhyme.
Develop Good Listening Habits
The skill of listening may seem underappreciated in a time when we get bombarded with fast-paced, multi-tasking demands and technology, but it is crucial for learning.
Listening is a skill that requires practice and attention, so reading aloud can help your child develop good listening habits from an early age.
Active listening is a skill that encourages kids to think more carefully about what they hear. When you read aloud, make sure to take time with your child to reflect and ask questions about the story.
Children who actively listen get greater benefits from reading aloud. They get benefits such as improved concept development (Wasik & Bond, 2001) and comprehension strategies (Van den Broek, 2001).
Reading aloud can help develop good habits by teaching children to sit still, listen intently, and take in what they hear.
It Triples Their Resilience
According to remarkable research from the University of Australia, reading aloud can triple resilience at school, especially with kids at-risk.
Reading with children at home can help reverse some of the adverse side effects in children who have suffered neglect or abuse.
If the family struggles to create a nurturing environment for their children, reading aloud with their parents can benefit them socially and emotionally and develop their resilience.
A good start to school is critical for children’s success. It’s vital to identify those at risk early on so we can tackle any developmental problems that could affect them when they start school.
Reading is a critical factor of success for children and families before starting school. Despite any adversity exposure, it supports the child’s emotional, social, and physical development.
Learn Sight Words Faster
When you are reading aloud to your child, they will also be able to learn sight words faster.
Sight words are the most common words in the English language. Think of words such as “the,” “here,” “and,” “is,” etc.
Since these words are so common, your child needs to be able to recognize them quickly when they see them.
One way to help children learn sight words is by reading aloud with them frequently. Have fun emphasizing these sight words and encouraging your child to chime in.
This way, they will begin to pick up on these high-frequency words and be able to recognize them quickly without needing to decode them.
Reading aloud will help prepare the child for independent reading – a critical skill for student success.
Better Literacy Skills
Another benefit of reading aloud to your child is that it helps them develop early literacy skills.
By hearing books when you read aloud, your child is exposed to many different words and sentence structures. This exposure can increase their vocabulary and improve their fluency skills over time.
Engaging in analytic talks, such as predicting and drawing inferences that connect events or explain a character’s motivations, helps accelerate a child’s literacy development (Dickinson & Smith, 1994).
Reading aloud also gives your child a chance to hear how words are pronounced and used in sentences. That can help them with their writing skills and reading skills.
Learn Life Skills and Values
Reading aloud with your child also helps teach them important life lessons and values.
Books can expose children to different cultures and ideas that they may not have learned at school or other ways.
For example, reading a story about acceptance could help your child understand the importance of respecting people who are different from them.
Reading a story about gratitude could help your child understand the importance of being thankful for having a roof over their head and having food on the table.
Books can also teach children to handle different emotions, such as anger, sadness, or fear.
Books can even affect children’s morality. One study showed that listening to and discussing “George Washington and the Cherry Tree” decreased the rates of lying in four to seven-year-olds, thus improving morality.
Books are tools that help kids navigate the world. They come with many essential life skills and lessons that will come in handy as they grow older and face challenging situations.
Build a Deeper Connection with Your Child
Reading aloud can be a relaxing activity for both you and your child. It’s a great way to wind down at the end of the day.
When you read together, you take an interest in your child and give them your full attention.
There is a great joy in being present with your child. You are present with your child as you cuddle, explore the characters’ feelings, and reassure and nurture their development.
You build an emotional and physical connection that can last a lifetime.
So, snuggle up with your child and a good book today!
It’s Not too Late
Even if you didn’t read aloud to your child when they were younger, it’s not too late to start.
Your child can still reap the benefits of reading aloud, no matter their age. According to early childhood literacy researcher Keisha Siriboe, the minimum suggested time is fifteen minutes per day to see some positive outcomes.
Don’t try it once or twice and give up. Invest in your children and your relationship with them. Be part of their journey as they develop their maturity and personality with you.
Take a book. Add some humor. Maybe a funny voice. Some energy, warmth, and enthusiasm. Show children that reading is fun.
So, find a cozy spot, grab a book, and start reading!
Let’s face it, with all the technology, after-school activities, and homework, it can be hard at first to convince your children that storytime is not a chore.
However, reading aloud to your child has many benefits. It helps them develop thinking skills, strengthens their listening skills, and improves literacy skills.
Reading aloud is also a great way to build a lasting connection with your little one!
As your child hears repeated words or stories, they begin to associate things and develop their thinking skills.
Reading aloud is especially beneficial during the early school years, as it can help them understand and process new information better.
So grab a book and start reading aloud to your little one today!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Caitriona is a private language tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. Caitriona has been teaching the English language since 2016. She has taught in schools in Spain and the U.K., and she currently teaches online. On her blog, you will find tons of English language articles, worksheets, resources, tips, and advice for learners and teachers.