If reading with your children isn’t a regular habit, try to make it one. Here are compelling reasons you should read with your kids every day.
Reading with our kids is one of those pieces of advice everyone—experts, teachers, pediatricians—recommend, but can still fall off our radar. And we have plenty of excuses. We:
- Are busy.
- Do read to our kids, but not regularly.
- Don’t have enough books in the house.
- Think the kids are too old to be reading with us.
- Don’t read ourselves.
- Meet resistance from our kids.
Why you should read with your kids every day
Thing is, this one simple act can have a huge impact on our children’s learning and success. Let’s dive into a few benefits of reading with your kids:
#1: Better performance at school
No doubt, avid readers perform better at school than those who don’t. One of the biggest reasons is how many words a child knows. After all, a student needs to be able to understand his teacher and the lessons in class.
Let’s say you spoke a little bit of French while your friend is fluent. You can imagine who will have an easier time navigating through France.
A student who knows more words will have an easier time comprehending material. And all it takes is reading often and enough with our kids.
So, what exactly is enough? Just 20 minutes a day is all it takes. That can be 20 straight minutes, or different reading sessions throughout the day. Want to see just how much this can help? Take a look at the graph below:
Such a huge difference with how many words they learn and where they fall on the scale of success at school.
#2: Helps kids understand complex themes
Is your child struggling with an issue? Maybe he has separation anxiety, or is biting other classmates. He could be welcoming a new baby brother or worried about going to school.
Besides speaking with your child about these issues, you can also read with him to help him get through it. Reading gives him ways to cope and shows how other characters deal with the same issues. He’ll know he’s not alone, and that others have experienced the same thing.
Complex themes can even extend to informational ideas. Things like how to be a kind friend, or ways we can make the world a better place. And sometimes they shed light on our communities, such as holidays we celebrate.
It’s one thing to explain these topics to our kids, and another to introduce books about them. They allow your child to dive into these issues in depth without being the subject of the conversation.
#3: Introduces new experiences and information
The more your child reads, the more he’ll know. Books are, after all, an important source of information, for both kids and adults. When I want to learn more about a topic, I usually borrow a book about it. And of course, schools have books with the sole purpose of providing information.
That habit can start now. Your child can learn about how snowflakes form, or which animal runs the fastest. He can discover our solar system or how plants grow. If your child doesn’t travel much, he can still “visit” different countries and cultures.
Imagine knowing all that exciting new information just from reading!
#4: Reading is a bonding experience
One of the biggest mistakes we can do is make reading a chore. And it’s tempting to do it, especially when we feel pressured or guilty when we don’t read with our kids.
But reading can and should be a bonding experience between the two of you. The close proximity, hearing the same story, the focus on your child. And sometimes the story itself can inspire awe and entertainment that you now share. These are perks that help form a bond.
This is why it’s important not to treat reading as a chore, or to nag kids to read. Make it an enjoyable experience so it becomes a treat, not a drag.
#5: Fosters a love of reading
Best of all, reading begets a love of reading. And this is the ultimate goal: raising a child with a love of reading and learning. Where reading isn’t a means to an end, but the actual experience he treasures.
What can at first be a chore can turn into a lifelong hobby. Think about exercise fans who, perhaps at first, dreaded that early morning run or trip to the gym. But over time, they benefited from this habit and now find joy in working out. The same is true for kids and reading.
Books can be just as, if not more, entertaining as other typical ways kids spend time. And raising a love of reading now will only help cement it further when he’s an adult.
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Best practices when reading with kids
With so many benefits of reading, how can we make the most out of the experience? Below are best practices for making reading with kids positive and effective:
- Prioritize reading time. It all boils down to how important reading with your kids is to you. We’ll always have a hundred excuses, but if you make reading a priority, the other things on your to-do list will fall second.
- Make reading part of your routine. You’re less likely to forget to read with your kids if you make it part of your routine. Just as they sleep every night, so too should they read at some regular part of the day. Start your bedtime routine 20 minutes earlier if need be.
- Borrow a lot of books from the library. Make regular trips to the library, and borrow a lot of books each time. I go every week and borrow at least eight books. I have a friend who goes every three weeks (or whenever the books are due) and borrows upward of 50 books each time. Litter your house with books!
- Give a book as a present with each birthday or holiday. Make books a treat by giving a book with each birthday or holiday. Your kids will see them as a special item and will feel excited to read their new book.
- Read books you like to read aloud. Not all children’s books are great, or are for every parent. If you find a book you can’t stand reading, no need to force it (unless your child really loves it!). You’ll feel more motivated reading books you enjoy than those you don’t.
- Ask your child to read to you, too. Find an age-appropriate book and take turns reading with your child if he can. He’ll love reading along and will be more likely to pay attention.
- Praise your child for being a reader. If you see him reading a book on his own, praise him afterward for being a fantastic reader. And label him as a reader—this is one label you want to instill as a personal trait.
- Read yourself. It’s much harder to convince your child to read when he doesn’t see you doing it himself. And if you can, try to read physical books instead of on your phone or tablet, which he might not know is a book.
- Admit your own shortcomings. None of us are perfect—we all make mistakes in this parenting journey. If you haven’t been diligent about implementing reading habits, come clean with your child. Explain you haven’t been enforcing a good habit, but you’ve learned and will now follow through. Your child may resist at first, but he’ll appreciate your honesty and understand the change.
Reading is one of those things we can do—today—that will have a lasting impact on our kids. It’s tied with so many benefits, from performing well at school to better bonding. It almost seems silly not to spend at least 20 minutes of our day reading with our kids.
But life does happen, and sometimes we don’t always get to read regularly with our kids. Try to change that moving forward. Start small, even with just one book a day. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make in your child.
For ideas on what to read, check out several articles on the blog about children’s book collections. Then, download this FREE weekly reading log to help you meet your 20-minute goal:
Get more tips:
- Top 52 Children’s Books to Read with Your Kids
- 4 Reasons Kids Need Downtime
- What to Do when Your Child Doesn’t Want to Go to School
- 6 Techniques to Teach Your Child to Love Math
- 6 Traits You Can Teach to Guide Kids to Success
Tell me in the comments: What are your biggest struggles that hold you back from reading regularly with your child? What is the biggest benefit you’ve seen in your child from reading every day?
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