Amongst the many chores, errands, tasks, and favours required of a parent, reading out loud is just as important to the growth, happiness, and success of a child as other things. The beauty of taking time out of your day to sit with your child, no matter what their age, and read a book out loud together is that it doesn’t really feel like a chore. You get to enjoy some quiet, relaxing time while also bonding with your children and allowing them to develop their skills and grow. That said, a lot of parents aren’t aware of the many benefits reading out loud to your kids can have. A lot of the time it’s seen as something that encourages kids’ speaking and reading ability, and once they’re able to do it on their own, a lot of parents stop the practice. In this article we’ll explore why it’s important to read out loud to your kids, and give you some tips on how to keep it interesting so you don’t get bored or discouraged.
It helps young children to learn language
Even before they can speak, newborns and infants can hear everyone around them conversing every day. Language and words are all around them, and it’s this exposure that lets children naturally pick up oral skills. That said, most of the language kids hear around them is verbal shorthand and conversational. Reading books out loud to kids allows them to hear more rich language, full sentences, and even poetic phrasing.
Reading books also helps kids in picking up language skills as it allows them to associate images with words. As you read out loud to your kids, point at the illustrations and images when you speak the associated words, so your children can naturally make the connection and learn their meaning. It’s been shown that reading out loud to kids from a young age helps them to learn to read on their own even faster, which can go on to have an even larger impact on their learning as a whole. Now we’re not saying that reading to your kids from infancy will automatically lead to them getting a PhD later in life, but it will sure help in their early schooling.
It encourages bonding and understanding
A study has found that 83% of kids between the ages of 6-17 loved or liked being read to a lot. This daily ritual of snuggling up with your favourite book and your parent becomes a special time for young children, and they’re moments that they clearly go on to treasure even later on in life. Engaging in stories together, learning, having fun, and engaging your imaginations facilitates a deep bond between you and your child, and this can go on to have a positive impact on your relationship as a whole.
It can help kids at school
As mentioned earlier on in the article, kids who are read to out loud from a young age are able to grasp a fuller version of language than those who simply pick it up through listening to conversations. Being read to out loud allows kids to have a wider vocabulary than their peers who don’t get to enjoy the same luxury, and this can help them when they start out at school. As early years of learning are oral-based (since kids still can’t read!), carrying out tasks and learning information relies primarily on the teacher giving out instructions to the students. Children with a larger vocabulary and better understanding of language are more easily able to understand the instruction of their teacher, while those with a smaller vocabulary may be left with some confusion or misunderstandings due to gaps in vocabulary.
It aids with listening skills
Many parents stop reading out loud to their kids around the age of 5, when they begin to be able to read on their own. A lot of parents think that once kids have reached this milestone, it’s no longer necessary to read out loud to them. However while a child may have a great reading level, their listening level may still not be fully developed. Kids are prone to distraction, restlessness, and trouble retaining information, and continuing to read to your kids out loud in their older years can help with developing their listening skills. You can begin to read more complex books, and quiz your children on the chapter you’ve just finished to see how well they’ve been listening. Over time you will be able to see how reading time evolves from teaching kids to speak, to teaching them to read, to teaching them to listen.
Tips with reading time
Kids are kids, and they won’t suddenly decide to get all calm and quiet once it’s reading time. While some children can’t wait for the moment they’re settled into your lap and diving deep into a book, others can have trouble staying still. They might ask a lot of questions while you’re trying to read. They may want to stick to always reading the same book, even though you can’t stand the thought of reading it again. At the same time, you’re a busy parent, and it can be difficult to always find the time to sit down and read with your kids. Not being able to do it every day or stick to a routine can be discouraging, so to help you out with all of the above, here are some tips to make reading time easy.
- Have fun – Look, these are your kids, and you can be as silly as you want while reading. Have fun, put on voices, exaggerate the tones of your words, and just have a ball with it. This will make reading time less of a chore, and more like a release for you. Allow yourself to get all expressive and emotive, and your kids will love the show you put on.
- Pick books of interest – There are plenty of books out there that are sure to cater to both you and your child’s interests. If you love animals, find something with an animal plot line to satisfy both of your desires. If you love fantasy, you can find plenty of books to tickle your imagination. Picking something that interests your children is vital as it will stop them from getting all restless.
- Use this as a time to educate – Rather than always sticking to the same themes (like animals or fantasy), try to switch it up every now and then to introduce your child to different ideas, experiences, and emotions. This can help them to develop empathy and kindness, as they begin to relate to stories of people who are from different backgrounds and walks of life. In a way, it’s helping kids to be learn how to understand something that they have not actually experienced themselves, which can be difficult for a lot of children.