What Are the Values of Reading to Children?

Reading well is essential to academic success and understanding the complexities of the modern world. Parents can help their children develop a love of reading by reading aloud to them.

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Overview of the Value of Reading Aloud to Children

Early childhood professionals confirm that reading to a child should begin as soon after birth as possible. When a child is born, only 25% of the brain in developed, and the rest develops within the first year of life. This is a crucial time in a child's life where reading aloud and simply talking to your child will help tremendously with brain development and speaking skills, which are precursors to reading.

Babies

As soon as your baby is born, he or she starts learning. You can help your baby develop language skills simply by talking to, playing with and caring for him or her every day. By reading with your baby, you foster a love of books and reading right from the start.

Snuggling up with a book is one of the first reading experiences you can share with your child. By hearing your voice in a secure environment, your child will begin to view reading as a pleasurable experience. Pick colorful, baby-friendly books that your child can enjoy and handle safely.

Read favorite stories and sing songs associated with the stories over and over. This practice strengthens language development and associates reading with pleasure. Encourage your child to mimic you as you read. The 'coos' and gurgles a baby makes are important first steps toward speech.

Toddlers

It may be difficult to get a toddler to sit still and read with you. However, everyday experiences are full of opportunities to engage your in conversation and develop language skills.

Try to keep reading activities short and simple to maintain your toddler's interest. Keep books in the car or by the couch so you can squeeze in reading when the opportunity arises. Additionally, bedtime is a time-honored occasion for reading to toddlers.

Select engaging books with lots of illustrations. Toddlers are 'hands-on' and like books with texture, such as flaps, buttons or zippers.

Pre-School Children

Read to your pre-school child every day, and talk about how much you enjoy the experience. Read with enthusiasm, and don't be afraid to be silly. Make the reading interactive and stop reading to answer questions or when your child loses interest. Reread your child's favorite books as often as requested.

You can also take an opportunity to point out words everywhere you go. For example, point out how words are separated by spaces and sentences end with punctuation. Talk about written words that you see in the real world, such as stop signs, and help your child figure out what they mean.

Early Elementary Grades

Reading out loud to your child should be continued throughout the early elementary grades. This is a good time to visit the library and obtain more sophisticated books. Make sure that your child maintains the connection between reading and pleasure by allowing your child to select books him or herself. It's also beneficial to entice your elementary school child with a variety of print sources, such as newspapers and magazines.

Elementary school is also a good time to introduce your child to some reading websites that encourage and motivate independent readers. Websites such as Scholastic and PBS Kids have reading activities and book lists.

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