As a parent you have many important priorities when it comes to your child. You need to keep your child safe, healthy, and loved. In today’s hectic world, we often spend so much time engaged on those priorities we forget another important area — mental stimulation. As parents we need to engage our children’s minds as well as their bodies in order for them to grow and learn. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is through reading.
There are a number of reasons why you should read to your child. If you are already reading to your child on a daily basis then these reasons should strengthen your resolve and if you are regularly reading to your child they should challenge you to do so:
1. A carefully selected story challenges and engages your child’s mind. Through books your child can not only re-live experiences in their own life but also learn and experience cultures and events far removed from their current scope.
2. Reading out loud demonstrates what good reading sounds like and provides a goal for the child’s literacy efforts. As your child learns to read, he or she will need role models to follow. Shouldn’t you be one of them?
3. Sharing a variety of books improves your child’s knowledge of language including vocabulary, sentence structure, and pronunciation. The more your child knows about words and language then the more knowledge and experience she will have to draw upon while learning to read and the easier it will be for her to learn.
4. Reading with your child helps the child connect print words and meaning. Children learn to read many words simply through repeated exposure. It is not enough to simply provide words and instead the words must also be placed in context.
5. Reading demonstrates how a book works, such as that we read a book from front cover to back cover and a page from top to bottom, and a line from left to right. Those of us with long experience with books take this knowledge for granted but young children need to learn these simple rules.
6. A well-written story stimulates your child’s imagination and creativity which can foster their own creative efforts and play.
7. Reading a variety of stories helps children learn how story structure and narrative works which will help in literacy as well as social interaction. Human beings use story telling and narrative in our professional and personal interactions and the people who have the best grasp of narrative technique are often the most successful in these areas. Give your child an edge.
8. Making literacy a priority in your life will demonstrate its importance to your child so they will make it a priority in theirs. If your child never sees you read then why would they think it is important?
9. Reading to a child also promotes physical contact as your child sits on your lap or cuddles beside you. It provides another opportunity to strengthen your bond with your child.
10. Listening to the human voice can be very soothing and especially when it is the voice of a loved one. It can help lower stress levels and bring comfort. Children face many stresses during the day just as do adults. You might find taking the time to read to your child not only reduces their stress level but yours as well.
You should make reading to your child a part of your regular daily routine but also include spontaneous opportunities as well. Not only will these moments draw you closer to your child and provide lasting memories but you are also giving your child benefits that will impact their entire life.