As parents, we’ve all heard that we should read to our kids. The reasons range from “bonding” to the idea that reading to kids “teaches them how to read.” While children do look forward to that time cuddled up with mom while she reads a good book, it doesn’t always equate to children learning how to read.
The benefits of reading to your child go beyond early literacy.
WHY SHOULD I READ TO MY CHILD?
In reality, reading books to your children isn’t just about teaching them how to read. They begin to learn that those weird squiggles on the page or sign or card mean something. According to Birsh, listening to someone read to them builds vocabulary, comprehension, word structure, sentence forms, how words relate to each other, and more.
When children are immersed in a literary world full of information, conversation, kindness, friendship, and exploration, among other things, they begin to understand them and expand their knowledge. They understand what the words mean because they’ve seen or experienced an example. Building a broad vocabulary means they’ll be able to communicate more effectively. They also begin to understand syntax – how to create well-formed sentences – and phonetics – how to form sounds.
We can’t write this section without including a side note on oral language skills. In a 1999 study by Linder, they found that children that are not read to often have deficits in oral language, syntax, morphology, sematics, pragmatics, and narrative structure (Birsh). This deficiency results in negative reading comprehension down the road.
Children that are read to frequently are literacy socialized. Literacy socialization translates to children understanding that the marks on the page mean something and it develops a positive connection between reading and those experiences cuddled up with you reading a book.
Reading to your child has many benefits, including:
- Realize squiggles and marks on the page mean something.
- Increases their lexicon (vocabulary).
- Helps them develop syntax (how sentences flow, etc).
- Increases oral language skills.
- Creates a positive emotion about reading.
- Develops a connection with the child.
WHAT SHOULD YOU READ TO YOUR CHILD?
The book stores and libraries are full of adorable books that children would love to have in their collection. Maybe you’ll find a few that your kiddo loves to read so much that they want to read it daily. Reading to your child doesn’t stop there. You should read anything and everything to your child. Birthday cards, instructions on how to put together their favorite toy, signs at the grocery store, the words on the map while you’re on vacation or the detailed guides at the gorilla exhibit at the zoo.
You can check out our growing list of book recommendations here.