If you are a new age parent you have probably already heard about the benefits of reading to your child. In fact, even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) makes a strong effort to talk about the importance of reading to babies and toddlers as a way to promote early literacy skills. These efforts have led to a rising trend in reading to kids among millennial parents.
“Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime,” the AAP says.
Let’s look at this topic more in-depth and understand why educators and child development experts stress on reading aloud to kids.
BENEFITS OF READING TO BABIES AND BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
- Bond with parent
Reading aloud to babies helps parents bond with their babies. Reading helps soothe the child and build the foundation for trust in the parent. The parent is giving direct attention to the baby through the act of reading aloud and infants notice this.
- Early reading kickstarts language skills
A big importance of reading at an early age is the effect reading has on developing early language skills. Babies are noticing tone, inflections, and rhythms in voice. Research shows that reading aloud from an early age leads to developing early language and vocabulary.
- Helps eyes to track and focus on visuals
An infant has blurred vision and daily reading can help them focus on strong contrasting visuals in books providing the necessary input for eyesight development. That is why many experts recommend reading books with high contrast or black and white images to babies.
- Cognitive development
Introducing books at an early age lays the foundation for future cognitive skills like reasoning, problem-solving, and memory building. Early reading benefits not only language development but also helps literacy skills in the future such as writing, reading and math.
- Introduces the child to the concept of reading
They say practice makes one perfect. The same applies here, the more a child is read to the more will he learn to read in the future. Before they learn to read independently they need to be equipped with a large vocabulary. Setting a reading routine is crucial to make the child understand that books are a form of communication. They contain pictures and words that mean something. It is never too early or late starting to read to your child, as long as you read.
BENEFITS OF READING TO TODDLERS
- Introduces emotions and feelings
Reading stories introduces the child to different emotions and feelings. Watching the character go through emotions helps the toddler understand his own. This, in turn, helps with better communication since they now recognize the emotion and can express it to their parent.
- Sparks creativity
Reading books helps the child understand concepts, ignite imagination and creativity. They spark a whole new series of questions getting the child to think about and express feelings and ideas.
- As a form of entertainment
One of the biggest benefits of reading to toddlers is the use of books as a form of entertainment. Keeping kids engaged in books reduces screentime. Not only is reading helping the child to learn how to focus and engage in deep work, it keeps over stimulating modes of entertainment like electronic toys and screen use to a minimum.
- Enhances language development
Not only does early reading kickstart language skills it also helps improve language skills. Reading short stories regularly helps a toddler understand the finer nuances of conversation through tone and inflection. They begin to hold effective conversation themselves.
- Using books to teach life skills
Toddlers need to feel included in the adult world at the same time feeling as competent as the adults around them. Using books about bedtime routines, daily routines, ones showcasing expected behaviors, helps a toddler grasp these concepts faster.
By now they are deeply invested and engaged in the reading habit and want to mimic the characters they read about.
I have found books useful in teaching my son everything from helping mommy with chores, to brushing teeth, having a bath. When he sees these characters do these things in the books he reads, he wants to follow along and do it himself.
Books can also be used as an introduction to your culture or language. These days there are toddler storybooks on almost every subject and language.
Must have books for toddlers
HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD INTERESTED IN READING?
- Start with a routine
The easiest way to get your child interested in reading is by including reading as a part of your daily routine. Include bedtime reading or morning reading sessions or both. Make books your go-to activity as you move along the day. Once kids get used to this one on one time with you, they themselves remind you about books.
- Books everywhere
Another smart tip to encourage reading and interest in books is to create a small reading nook for your child. Include a big basket or bookshelf that is easily accessible to the child and a mat or chair to sit on.
Leave books in different corners of the house from your coffee table to the bedside table.
The key here is, the books need to be accessible to the child.
Once placed in different locations of the house, the books catch their attention and they like finding something familiar in different corners of the house.
- Model the behavior
Read with your child or make it a point that your child sees you read. As with everything else in parenting, when the parents act as a model for a certain behavior, it catches on faster with the kids.
- Diverse topics and styles
To keep your child constantly engaged, buy books in different formats – board books, cloth books, paperbacks, pop out books, and busy books.
Include different topics in terms of the subject of books. Here are some age-appropriate book lists for your kids.
I hope this article helps you get into a reading routine with your child and reinforces the importance of reading to babies. What benefits of reading did you experience with your child?
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