Reading aloud to your child can create some of the most magical moments you’ll experience as a parent. Watching little faces light up with new ideas, seeing the joy that familiar characters bring, and having your little ones experience your own emotions as you read aloud creates bonds that last throughout your lives.
“Reading aloud, especially at the earliest ages, brings extensive benefits to your children,” says Dr. Alzein. “And when you continue reading aloud even when your child can read independently, the benefits only magnify.”
Begin reading aloud to your newborn as soon as you feel comfortable holding both your baby and a picture book. Nestle back in a comfy couch or chair, lay Baby on your stomach facing outward, and open Eric Carle’s. You’ll both be delighted by the simple text, bright colors, and isn’t-nature-amazing story.
The earlier children are exposed to books and pictures, the more positively they view reading their entire lives. In fact, children who experienced shared reading at the earliest of ages were more interested in reading at the age of 5 than children in families who waited to begin reading aloud.
When you read aloud, children learn to recognize letters at an early age and they make the connection that letters and print represent spoken words. They will learn to read themselves more quickly, as they decode syllables, rhymes, and phonetics, understanding the distinct sounds of different letters and words. They also begin to instinctively understand the rules of grammar, spelling, and sentence structure.
Children who experience reading aloud develop spoken language skills faster and more richly. Their vocabulary expands as they learn new words through reading aloud with parents, siblings, grandparents, and caregivers. Reading aloud teaches basic concepts like big and little, near and far, and tall and short. Your child will learn colors and shapes.
It sounds simplistic, but children who are read also gain an early understanding of how books work; how to hold a book, how pages turn, how to start at the beginning, and how to continue until the end.
When reading to your children, you’re not just telling your child a story, you’re also helping them learn something about the world and their place within it. As your child grows, you can read books that spark meaningful conversations, such as Dr. Seuss’, or Shane W. Evans’ . Reading aloud can enrich your child’s values, beliefs, customs, sense of community, and empathy.
Reading aloud even when your child can read independently, in middle school, high school, and beyond, fosters your child’s identity, enriches your family relationships, and promotes self-awareness, self-understanding, and personal development.
Reading aloud to your older children is fantastic for expanding vocabularies, both in your child and in yourself. A study of 7-10 year-olds found that when kids read words silently, they remembered about 70% of the words. When they read words aloud, they remembered about 87% – which creates a bonus for you, the reader! Reading aloud has a positive impact on memory, keeping you mentally sharper as you age.
Begin reading to your child when they are just days or weeks old. Visit your local library for children’s books and ask the librarians to guide you to books that will enrich your child’s mind, abilities, and future.