We’ve all heard the advice to read to kids, often and early. No study has ever refuted the benefits of reading to your child. “Warning: new research says reading to kids does harm!”
Reading to kids at a young age isn’t only about the immediate results. Yes, our kids enjoy books. They’ll feel less cranky after a nap, and story time adds a certain rhythm to your day.
But imagine how much our kids’ lives will change because we read to them. We’ll help them excel in school, feel confident, and relate well with peers.
Imagine doing one little thing that leads to positive results long after we started. That’s what keystone habits are, as described in Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
Benefits of reading to your child
These habits aren’t so much about doing one thing that leads to one result. It’s one small change that improves many aspects of your life.
Like having a financially, emotionally and socially more successful life. All because your parents read to you at a young age.
These skills will help reap the long term benefits of reading to your child.
#1: A positive attitude towards reading and learning as an adult
You won’t nag your child through school and tasks. Instead, she’ll be willing and eager to learn and do school work. She’ll likely want to read on her own for fun, well into adulthood. This snowballs into a further desire to continue fine-tuning her skills. Or learning new ones and advancing as much as she can.
#2: Higher vocabulary means success in school
Much of school is still taught verbally. Kids learn from what the teacher is saying and explaining. So kids who know more words will understand their teachers and books more than those who don’t. Already the child who reads will have an advantage over those who don’t because they know more words.
Want your child to learn more words? I created a handy printable for your older kids to learn new words. It’s yours free—just tell me where to send it:
#3: Longer attention span
Reading is challenging and requires some serious concentration. They’re piecing together a story they’re listening to. And later, they’re learning to read those words for herself is challenging for any child. This practice helps build her attention span so she can remain focused and less likely to give up.
#4: Encourages imagination
Unlike movies or television shows, books have at most a few pages of illustrations. Everything else is up to your child to imagine. This imagination will help her think throughout school and into her career.
#5: Expanding chain of knowledge
Reading to your child now about trucks seems insignificant. But because he’s introduced to trucks, he’ll then want to learn about other automobiles. And after that, the highways and bridges they travel on. From there, he’ll learn about the construction of bridges and what makes them hold. He might even build a bridge for a science experiment in school. And who knows where this passion will take him even further down the line. Introducing our kids to a wide variety of subjects now sets of a chain of knowledge they can’t wait to dig into.
Your child feels confident when he can relate to the stories he reads. Or vice versa, he feels good when he can see something in his life he’ll later read in books. He doesn’t have much catching up to do when he enters school with already knowing the basics of reading. No longer is there pressure to learn to read from scratch. Or learning to pay attention during story time when he has already begun that process at home.
I know so much more about my world because of the books I read. I don’t travel much, but through books, I’m able to get a sense of the world and what others feel and experience. The same holds true for kids. Reading stories about other people’s experiences helps them understand the feelings of others.
#8: A positive relationship between parent and child
Reading aloud now helps build a positive relationship between the two of you. She’ll have a positive attitude towards reading and remember it as one of the ways you bonded.
I’ve seen the difference with what reading aloud to kids can do in the short term. With my eldest, my husband and I spent a lot of time reading to him every day, especially when he was an infant. When our twins came, we didn’t have as much time to read, especially as we went from one to three kids. And we noticed: our twins didn’t ask for books as much as their older brother had.
My husband and I decided to change direction. We made an effort to read to them, incorporating books into their nightly routine. Any chance we could get, we’d grab a book or invite them to sit on our laps to read.
And it worked: now all my kids devour books. They’ll pull books from the shelves just as much as they would reach for a toy car. They squeal with glee when I come home every week with a new set of library books. They expect reading books right before bedtime.
Long term? If studies are correct, reading to them now will serve them well into adulthood.
Get more tips about the benefits of reading to your child:
- Instill a Love of Reading in Your Child
- 6 Useful Back to School Tips for Parents and Kids
- Teach Your Child the Value of a Job Well Done
- How to Keep Your Child Learning in the Summer
- How to Raise a Smart Child
Your turn: What are the benefits of reading to your child do you see in your family? What long term benefits are you hoping they’ll get from reading books at a young age? Let me know in the comments!