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Reading to Children: Why It’s So Important and How to Start

Babies and young children are sponges that soak in practically everything in their environments. It’s true! Even during story time, their minds are at work, taking in all the language they hear and lessons the characters learn.

Reading to your child — at any age — will boost their brain development, your bond, and so much more. And all it takes is a few books, motivation, and a little time.

Here’s how to get started.

What are the benefits of reading to children?

First, set the scene in your head. You choose a book. You sit down in your favorite armchair, with your child in your lap, and open to the first of many smooth, colorful pages.

You begin to read, and your child is utterly captivated by the story. It’s magic. What’s even better is that your child isn’t just having fun, they’re learning!

Reality may look a little different: Just know you’re not alone if your baby tries to eat the book or your toddler wanders around the room instead of sitting patiently. But the benefits of reading remain the same.

Bonding

Reading provides a wonderful opportunity for you and your child to connect. It’s a nice way to spend time together and slow down during an otherwise hectic day.

Research from 2008 pointed out how reading can support a solid parent-child relationship. Kids feel secure when they’re read to. Plus, caregivers who have a positive attitude toward books and reading in turn help their children view literacy in a positive way.

Listening skills

Hearing a story read aloud involves some level of comprehension on your child’s part. And comprehension is dependent on paying attention — in other words, listening skills.

books on tape are a great addition to reading one-on-one with your child. These often provide entertainment value, too, like silly voices, music, and other embellishments.

Cognitive and language development

Even the youngest children benefit from hearing their caregivers read to them. A 2013 study showed that babies who are read to and talked to score higher in language skills and cognitive development, like problem solving.

Research from 2018 suggests that this link extends throughout childhood into the teen years. In fact, researchers say that verbal interactions (reading, talking, etc.) between parents and young kids may promote higher language and IQ scores all the way up to age 14.

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