Reading is said to be the most marvelous adventure anyone can have. It opens doors to new worlds, provides entertainment, boosts the imagination, and has positive neurological and psychological benefits.
Dr. Seuss famously said, “the more that you read the more you will know; the more that you learn, the more places you will go.”
If reading is all it is vaunted to be, it follows that one of the most valuable things parents can do for their children is introduce them to the world of books. Here are some incredible benefits for children.
Reading helps boost brain development
Did you know that in the first few years of a baby, more than a million new neural connections are formed every second? Every second! That’s how fast a baby’s brain is growing and developing its architecture.
Recognizing this, pediatricians urge parents to read to their kids every day. In the U.S., for example, the American Pediatrician Academy issued a policy for its 62,000 member pediatricians to become powerful advocates for reading aloud, every time a baby visits a doctor.
Even though babies will probably spit up, cry, or babble in response, their brains are actually absorbing every word.
Reading improves vocabulary and language development
Researchers estimate that babies who are read aloud every day are exposed to around 78,000 words per year. This means that by the time they reach kindergarten, they would have accumulated around 1.4 million more words than children who are never read to (from a 2019 study, Journal of Development & Behavioral Pediatrics).
Therefore, reading to a child helps his or her blossoming language skills bloom. What’s more, with reading books, children are introduced to the language of books, which differs from the one used in normal conversation. Books tend to use grammatical and storytelling structures, which can help kids improve not only their reading but also their writing fluency.
Reading helps with school success
Every parent wants the best for their child, and this includes excelling in school. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean getting straight As, but encouraging your child to have a natural love for learning.
How do books help? Megal Daley, teacher, librarian, and author of the book Raising Readers: How to Nurture a Child’s Love For Books explains: “As a parent and educator, I know how beneficial it is for children to enter the education system bubbling with excitement about words, images, and ideas. Flash cards or early online reading programs won’t instill this joy in your little one, but gorgeous books will.”
When kids are brought up in that reading, storytime, and play environment, they develop that love and natural thirst for knowledge. They know there’s plenty to learn, and the books serve as gateways to that knowledge. Daley concludes, “Immersing your child in the language of all forms – stories and songs and nursery rhymes is one of the best ways you can give them a headstart and help them to reach their academic potential.”
Reading teaches children empathy
Whether fiction or non-fiction, books are powerful tools in helping a child imagine what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes. Books make it possible to explore the inner lives of people across different backgrounds or delve into other people’s perspectives in life.
No doubt about it, books teach children empathy, and empathy, according to this article in The Guardian, “is increasingly being recognized as a core life skill, and the bedrock for sound relationships and classroom climate.”
Books can also help children handle their feelings in a healthy way. Through reading and discussion with a parent or caregiver, a child learns that feelings of sadness, anger, or frustration are completely normal, and teaches them the value of opening up and processing feelings.
Reading Prepares Kids to Read on Their Own
Once they find reading fun and rewarding, the rest, as they say, is history. Instilling a love of reading at an early age unlocks that door to a lifelong passion and love for books. And as we all know, books are one of the most wonderful, yet simple joys of life.
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