Reading to Your Children: Why is it Important?

Hello. Thank you for reading with me!  Happyhealthychildren.org is here to provide you with information that will help you raise happy, healthy children! This post will address why reading to your children is important and whether you need to read to them or if they can get the same benefits by having a device read to them.

What skills do children acquire when parents read to them?

To better understand the benefits of reading to your children, let’s take a look at a study performed by researchers at the University of Chicago.  These researchers followed a group of 1 to 2 ½ year-old children until they were in 2nd and 4th grade.  Half of the children had parents who read to them and the other half did not. 

What the researchers found was that the group of children whose parents read to them when they were young had a better understanding of the meaning of words, better reading comprehension and more desire to read independently than the children who were not read to.  Similar findings have been shown by previously published research. 

Words are at the center of one’s ability to communicate

So why do these findings matter?  Words, whether spoken or written, are central to our ability to communicate.  And any of us who have been in a relationship, personal or professional, know the importance of good communication! Providing our children with a strong understanding of the meaning of words, both spoken and written, gives them the gift of good communication.

It seems silly to think that reading to your children when they are 1 to 2 1/2 years of age can help them lifelong. But it is true!

Reading to your children gives them knowledge and joy

Other than improved communication skills, these researchers demonstrated that children who were read to at an early age had a stronger internal motivation to read than those who were not.

Why is one’s internal motivation to read important?  Because after a certain point in our children’s lives, they are no longer forced to pick up a book and read. However, if they have an internal love of reading, they will choose to read and obtain knowledge on their own.

And reading books does not only provide knowledge. Books also provide simple enjoyment.  How great is it to be able to come home at the end of a long day and immerse yourself in a good book? So please, read to your children when they are young so that they will enjoy reading throughout their lives.

Do I have to read to my children or can I place them in front of a device that reads to them?

The trend in many parts of society today is to use technology to substitute for more traditional forms of education. In the case of reading, that would play out as placing your children in front of a reading screen rather than you reading to them. Researchers have looked at whether children benefit from screen reading as much as they benefit from their parents reading to them. The answer is absolutely not!  In fact, book reading has been shown over and over to improve cognitive ability and language skills over screen reading.

A last wonderful benefit of reading to your children

If improved communication skills, knowledge and joy were not reason enough to get you to read to your children, here is one final benefit.  Research has shown what parents have known for generations. When you sit down and read with your children, it improves the bonding between parent and child.

So please, give your children the short and long-term benefits of reading to them when they are young and enjoy cuddling with them too!

Thank you for reading with me today.  Please enter your email address below to subscribe to my blog, which will allow my future posts to come directly to your inbox.  Write to me at dr.pamela@happyhealthychildren.org with any topics you would like to see me cover in the future.  And please share my Gettr account, Facebook page, YouTube videos and Instagram with your friends and family.  My goal is to help parents raise happy, healthy children!

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