19 Incredible Benefits of Reading to Children

There are so many benefits of reading to children and it is one of the most special activities you can engage in.

It is also one of the most important.

The best gift you can give your child is to start reading to them from a young age, long before they are able to understand or read the words themselves.

Reading to toddlers and even babies is very good for their development.

The importance of reading books to children and the profound effects of reading on child development can be seen in a study from the Ohio State University.

The results showed that children who are read to in the first five years of life have a 1.4 million word advantage over children who are not read to at home.

That’s astounding.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Dr Seuss, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!

So, what are the benefits of reading to your child every night?

Many of them don’t always seem so obvious during storytime. These build a foundation over time that benefits children more than you can imagine.

When your children are old enough to start reading to you, don’t stop reading to them. There are benefits to reading as well as being read to.

Sometimes you will have to take on the role of the listener while they read aloud to you, sounding out words and finding meaning in the sentences. You can also read together, or take turns.

Here are just some of the many awesome advantages of spending a few minutes a day on this simple activity, all the while building important pre-reading skills.

1. Vocabulary

Whether you are reading a book about friends, sea creatures, or the adventures of an explorer, each book has its own set of vocabulary.

Your child will be exposed to an endless array of genres and colourful language.

Children who are read to have significantly larger and more developed vocabularies than other children. This puts them at a huge advantage intellectually and will help them cope better at school.

Not only do these children develop a larger vocabulary, but they also get exposure to many uncommon and unusual words that are not often heard in everyday language.

Children's books on a bookshelf

Does your child show an interest in a specific topic, such as space exploration? By exposing them to the topic and reading different types of books, they will begin to develop specialized jargon.

Encourage exposure to different subjects, but make sure to nurture their passions.

People spend their entire lives learning new words. There is no finite list of words that can be learned at school as language is constantly evolving.

The more children are exposed to reading, the richer their vocabulary becomes.

2. Language Patterns

Children learn to speak primarily by listening to their parents’ use of language.

When you read to your children, they will hear good language structures and grammar usage and will naturally mimic those.

Children do not learn about verbs, prepositions, conjunctions and adverbs out of the blue when they study them in the grades.

Years of reading gives them a vocabulary from which they are able to recognize parts of speech and other elements of language.

They will not only have a wider vocabulary but also good speaking skills and grammar usage.

3. Thinking skills

While children are reading or listening to stories, they are thinking.

It is the perfect time to ask them questions and develop their critical thinking skills.

For a few minutes every day, while you listen to your child read aloud or when you read a story to them, ask different types of questions about the story.

Ask them to predict, analyze, give opinions and suggest solutions to problems.

These questions can turn an otherwise passive activity into an engaging one with much value.

There are many different styles of thinking questions that may be asked, all of which will stimulate your child to analyze what you have read, not just to passively listen.

4. Independent Reading

One of the benefits of parents reading to their children is that it encourages them to learn to read themselves.

Children learn from their parents before anyone else. If they see you reading, they will want to mimic you and learn to read as well.

Girl reading a book

They will also experience the joy and fun of reading a story by listening to you and will want to learn to understand the words themselves.

5. Writing skills

Reading improves language skills, which in turn improves writing skills.

Not only will your child understand correct sentence structure and be able to use parts of speech correctly, but their increase in vocabulary will help them write creatively.

Reading stimulates the imagination. Your child’s writing will come alive when that imagination shows up in their stories.

6. Bonding time

Is there anything better than snuggling together on the couch or tucking your child into bed with a good book?

The time you spend together is precious and priceless.

Mother reading to her children

After a long day of school, sports, homework and many other activities, reading is one sure way to slow down and make sure you are spending some quality, undisturbed time together.

Because reading usually occurs in a quiet space, without distraction and involves only you and your child, it makes for perfect quality time.

When I think back to my childhood, one of my fondest memories is of my mother reading to my brother and me.

I remember how exciting it was to choose a story every night, even though we often listened to our favourites over and over.

The process of reading to your children is a bonding experience that they will look forward to daily.

They will appreciate and feel closer to you because of your effort and undivided attention.

7. Problem Solving

Every good story is filled with many opportunities to solve problems.

Characters find themselves in all kinds of situations and seek solutions to resolve them.

Children are already familiar with solving problems in their own life. Reading provides an experience for them to discover how others go about solving life’s day-to-day challenges.

It develops their ability to analyze situations and act appropriately.

Ask your children to provide solutions to a characters’ problems before reading the end of the story and you will be stimulating their ability to come up with their own ideas.

Analyze decisions that are taken by characters and see if your child agrees or has alternative endings to a story.

Life is full of challenges and reading is a wonderful way to learn to overcome them.

8. Concentration

When children listen to stories, they increase their ability to concentrate on what they are hearing.

As they become enthralled in the details of a story, they push themselves to listen a little longer, thus increasing their attention span over time.

The more interesting and captivating a book is for a child, the closer they will pay attention as you read.

Reading can lengthen a child’s overall concentration span. This spills over into other areas and helps them perform better at school and when working on activities.

Many parents often comment that their children have a long attention span as they are able to watch movies and TV programmes for hours.

Watching images flashing at a pace unnatural to the brain is not focusing. It is more like a trance and many children who watch hours of television struggle to concentrate in class.

Unlike watching screens, which negatively affects the brain, reading stimulates real focus.

Children have to actually listen, read and think about what they are reading or hearing.

They need to be active in the process to benefit from the story. It is not fed to them while they stare passively.

9. Memory

Following a storyline involves using memory. The more children use their memory, the stronger this skill becomes.

Take it a step further and stimulate their thinking skills while reading, using different types of questions.

These questions will encourage listening and reading for meaning, instead of just pronouncing words, which means your child will make an effort to think about and remember what they are reading.

10. Moral Lessons

Children learn a great deal from the characters in their favourite stories. These stories are filled with scenarios where the characters have to make decisions and influence the outcome of things.

How children perceive these decisions and the actions of the characters in stories will impact their own morals and values.

The majority of stories teach values and morals which means a great many lessons will be learned while listening to these.

11. Love of Reading

One of the great benefits of reading together every day is that you are forming a habit – a healthy habit – from a very young age.

Children who are surrounded by books grow into adults who read.

Child reading a book

Quite simply, reading to your children and surrounding them with books will develop a lifelong love of reading.

Reading will become a part of who they are and a routine activity that they look forward to every day.

Long after finishing school, your child will continue to learn, whether for business, pleasure or research, through books and online reading.

12. Listening Skills

The ability to listen is one of the most vital skills for success at school. Unfortunately, it is also a skill many children struggle with.

When you read to a child, they are actively listening for details. Doing this for a few minutes every day will have a massive impact on their overall listening ability and help them cope better at school.

Read how you can develop your child’s listening skills with these games.

13. Life Skills

Let’s be honest. How many life skills are children really learning through standardized testing and the current educational system?

Reading teaches children about life and how situations are dealt with.

Children can learn about relationships, friendships, family and life’s everyday occurrences and see how these are dealt with.

14. Strengthens the Brain

For a child, listening to a parent reading a story takes a lot more brainpower than, say, watching a TV program passively.

Listening actively to a story strengthens brain connections as well as builds new connections.

15. Conversation

Reading is the perfect activity to spur a conversation with your child. Encourage them to discuss the characters and events of the story and share their own opinions.

Use stories as a starting point for discussion and your child will have more opportunities to practise speaking, reasoning and building their vocabulary. This is great for developing expressive language.

16. Knowledge

I am willing to bet that only a tiny percentage of what you know was actually taught to you at school.

Children are sponges, absorbing information from many sources during the first few years of their lives.

They never stop learning into adulthood, but the greatest volume of learning occurs during the first 6 years.

Children learn from playing, experiencing and living.

They learn from family members, friends, teachers and strangers.

In modern times, they learn from the television, internet, computer programmes, radio and other devices.

And they learn from books. A lot.

Children who are read to tend to build a wide general knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

They learn about different places, people, events and things.

Whether the stories are fiction or non-fiction, tales or information books, your children will learn a wide variety of concepts and ideas.

Poster of Jurassic dinosaurs

17. Stress Relief

Reading is a calming activity and one that many adults engage in for relaxation. Some do it for stimulation and to learn, others just to relax and escape.

While using devices and watching screens before bed has been proven to negatively affect sleep, reading a book does the opposite. It calms the mind and is a healthy bedtime habit.

After a busy, active day, children look forward to listening to bedtime stories, often drifting off to sleep mid-story.

18. Empathy

When children become engrossed in a story, they identify closely with the characters, just as you would when watching a movie or reading a good book.

They learn to develop empathy and see things through others’ perspectives.

Empathy is an important skill for children to develop and is part of being socially adept.

19. Imagination

In the world of stories, anything is possible. Dragons, fairies, giant beanstalks and monsters are the norm.

These are great for developing your child’s imagination and creativity. Creativity is one of the most necessary qualities for today’s children living in a world far different from what their grandparents imagined it would be.

In order to keep up with the constantly changing world, children need to be quick thinkers, problem solvers and be able to imagine and create things that don’t yet seem possible.

There are so many benefits of reading books to children. If you make it a priority and find the time to do it every day, you’ll be giving your children so many experiences and wonderful memories to look back on.

Source: Empowered Parents