Reading to Your Child

For parents, days are often consumed with work, tasks, and responsibilities. Almost everything that we do as parents is so that we can provide better lives for our children. Unfortunately, this can lead to us being so busy that we miss the opportunity to read to our children daily. The good news is, reading to our kids doesn’t have to be one more drudging task on our never ending to-do list. In fact, it can be a quick addition to your child’s bedtime routine that becomes much easier to make time for once you have a solid understanding of the benefits reading will have on your child’s development and long term success.

In a study conducted by SAGE Publications and Hammill Institute on Disabilities (1), 56 students at risk of learning disabilities were assessed on the amount of reading occurring in their daily routines and their ability to perform effectively on reading and language performance. The findings showed that reading positively influenced their performance despite having learning disabilities. This study demonstrates the profound effect reading can have on a child.

In an interview (2) published to the The Public Broadcasting Service website (PBS.org), two pediatricians had this to say about the benefits of reading to and with your child:

Dr. Pamela High: “It’s a real one-on-one opportunity for children to communicate with their parents and parents to communicate with their children. You know, we know that the more words that are in a child’s language world, the more words they will learn, and the stronger their language skills are when they reach kindergarten, the more prepared they are to be able to read, and the better they read, the more likely they will graduate from high school. So, children with very poor reading proficiency by the time they enter the fourth grade are the ones at greatest risk to not graduate from high school and then not be able to be successful — successful in their own life course, economically, for example.”

Dr. Cindy Osman: “There’s solid research that shows that just that intervention of handing a family a book, giving them a couple of age-appropriate pieces of advice about how to read with their kid, and just encouraging reading, they –  those kids – will do better in school.”

Apart from the academic advances that can be made with the help of consistent reading, a bond between parent and child develops due to the time spent together. As a parent helps a child understand pronunciation, as well as meaning, children are better able to communicate questions, wants and needs. As communication grows, so do relationships.

One of the most common and favorite bedtime routines for children is reading a story.  This is a great habit to begin with your child, even as an infant.  Babies can look at pictures and listen to your voice, even if they don’t yet understand.  Pointing to pictures and saying the names of objects helps your child learn to associate words with pictures.  This is the basic foundation of learning language.  In a meta-analysis (3) of 25 research studies, there was a direct relationship found between pointing and speech as well as the amount of pointing produced by infants predicting their future speech production rate.

Children love to hear and copy sounds.  According to Reading is Fundamental (4), reading books aloud to children helps to stimulate their imaginations, expands their understanding of the world, and helps them develop listening skills, language skills, and prepares them to understand written words.

It is recommended that parents read to their children for around 5-10 minutes per day and that beginning readers spend 15-20 minutes per day reading with or without help (5). When your child can read on their own, have them read to you.  Ask questions about what they read.  Let them read the same book over and over if they wish.  Continue to read stories to them that are beyond their capability of reading.  This will introduce new vocabulary and stimulate new ideas.  A child who reads well will find it easier to achieve success in school, in work, and in all aspects of life.

“Knowledge is power, and books are full of it” so surround your child with books (4).  If you can’t afford to buy them, borrow them from your public library.  The gift of reading is one of the most precious gifts you can bestow on your child and it’s never too late to begin.  Taking the time to read to your child sends the message that reading is worthwhile, reading is important, and reading is fun!

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References

1. Williams, K. J., Walker, M. A., Vaughn, S., & Wanzek, J. (2017). A Synthesis of Reading and Spelling Interventions and Their Effects on Spelling Outcomes for Students With Learning Disabilities. Journal Of Learning Disabilities, 50(3), 286. doi:10.1177/0022219415619753

2. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/infant-reading-aloud-young-children-benefits-brain-development/

3. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/228107571_The_relation_between_pointing_and_language_development_A_meta-analysis

4. http://www.rif.org/books-activities/tips-resources/reading-with-your-child/

5. https://health.gov/healthliteracyonline/what-we-know/section-1-1/

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