Because of the way reading opens up a person’s mind, the effect it has on child development is astronomical. Reading is an integral part of a person’s childhood, which puts parents and teachers in the perfect position to create young readers out of the curious children that they’re helping to shape and mold.
This article is here to share five notable benefits of reading for children, along with ways that parents can read with their kids to encourage the love of books.
Five Reasons Reading Is a Critical Skill
Creating a routine that involves reading nourishes a child’s education, social development, cognitive development, well-being, and mental health.
Reading helps a child understand how the world around them works and how to interact with people and things in the world—because they see it modeled on the page. It encourages engagement, builds language skills, and provides a steady source of information (and entertainment!) throughout a child’s life.
Here are five notable reasons why reading is a critical skill:
1. It assists cognitive development.
Cognitive development encompasses the way we perceive the world around us in relation to our own intelligence, reasoning, language, and processing. By creating a reader out of your child, you’re helping them to understand their world and filling up their brains with knowledge that stretches beyond what they themselves experience on a day-to-day basis. They can use this far-reaching knowledge to make sense of their own world—what they see, hear, experience, and read, which helps to build their cognitive development.
2. It develops empathy.
When reading a book, it’s human nature to put ourselves in the shoes of the character that we’re reading about. Children develop empathy when they can identify the characters and learn to understand how they’re feeling—then they can shift this understanding into the real world and their everyday life. While reading, children can also gain a deeper understanding of emotions—their own and other people’s—which helps with social development.
3. It encourages deeper understanding.
When reading, children learn about people, places, and things that they might never otherwise encounter. This helps to give them a deeper understanding of the world and what it can offer, and they gain perspective on situations different than the ones that they experience.
4. It builds strong relationships.
When a parent reads to a child regularly, the bond between them will grow stronger. Reading provides a predictable and reliable event—a child knows what’s going to happen and they look forward to the time spent with the parent. Reading is a special time that a parent can devote to giving their child undivided attention, love, and reassurance—things that are essential for growth and well-being.
5. It benefits a child’s education.
Not only does reading improve literacy and language skills by helping children learn how to focus their eyes from left to right as you (or they) read, it also:
- Builds an extensive vocabulary
- Reading aloud exposes children to new words and phrases and helps them learn the context of such things.
- Listening to a book helps a child learn to sit still for greater periods of time. This can help them in school as the need to be still and focus increases.
- Encourages creativity
- Reading relies heavily on using the imagination, and encouraging this in children is never a bad thing. They’ll visualize the characters, their surroundings, and try to guess what will happen next. This increases a child’s creativity in their everyday life and other kinds of schoolwork.
How to Read with Your Child
By starting the routine of reading at home, you’re giving your child a strong foundation for school. For productive reading sessions, consider these tips:
- Even infants benefit from reading as they look at pictures and listen to your voice. This helps to create a routine and a bond at the earliest age.
- Work it into your routine
- Try to read to your child consistently every day—until it becomes a habit.
- It’s the nature of a child to enjoy the same books again and again, but encouraging variation will help open up their imagination further.
- Put yourself in your child’s shoes and see the task from their perspective—reading is a learning journey.
- Keep the discussion going
- After the book is over, ask them questions about the story you just read. This encourages critical thinking.
Nourishing Your Reader
Some children come by reading naturally, and others don’t—but a love of reading is something that is possible for everyone. Use this article to propel your child’s (and your own!) love of reading and incorporate the skill into your everyday life.