The Importance of Reading to Your Child

By Curriculum Specialist Kris McPhail

This winter has brought us several weekends of snow, which brought me thoughts of hibernating, staying warm and cozy inside, reading a good book, and drinking hot cocoa. Something I have done since I could read.

Think back to your childhood. Do you remember someone reading you a story? Did you ask for the same book, over and over? When you think back, do you remember the books that were read, or do you have memories of snuggling up and enjoying a book with someone special to you?

Research has discovered that, the tradition of reading aloud to children, is a wonderful way of helping children reach their full potential. Reading aloud is a perfect way of engaging with young children. This engagement supports healthy brain development. It is widely accepted that reading aloud is the single most important researched activity leading to language development and promotes early literacy skills. Even infants love to be held close in a loved one’s lap and hear their voice as they read a story.

Reading aloud builds curiosity, motivation, and memory. It also takes children to places and times they have never been, enlarging their worlds and creates a positive association with books and reading. Just handling board books develops school readiness in infants!

For children of all ages, try to incorporate reading with your child into your daily routine. Make it fun, talk about the pictures, help your child turn the pages. Talk to your child about the cover and what the story is about. You don’t have to read the book to tell the story. Using different voices and animal sounds can make the story come alive. Ask your child questions and encourage them to ask you questions while sharing the book.

When reading to your infant hold her in your lap while you read. Babies like board books, especially those with photographs of babies, people and animals in them. Point to pictures as you read – this is how babies learn.

Toddlers and two’s love stories that rhyme, are songs and are repetitive. Many will even memorize these! They will often choose the same storybook over and over. After hearing a story repeatedly they will often say the word at the end of each sentence. They like books that are silly, and have animals in them. They also will show interest in signs, everywhere you go.

Preschoolers may want to sit next to you while you are reading. They like to ask questions about the story or about new words they’ve heard in the story. Ask preschool children to tell you a story. Preschoolers like to go to the library and pick out their own books. Preschoolers like longer books
that tell stories, picture books without words, ABC and counting words, books about families, friends and going to school. They also like to be read to at bedtime.