Reading to your children can be a lovely bonding experience, and has so many positive benefits for their development. There is a saying that goes, ‘there’s no app to replace a parent’s lap’.
Benefits of reading to children
There are many benefits to reading to children, but here are just a few:
Bonding– it can be a special time of snuggles, and a good way to keep a toddler occupied while breastfeeding the baby. For generations, books have been read a bedtime to finish the day with a loving connection.
Language skills – the more words kids hear, the better their vocabulary will be. As they see and hear you speak, you are also modelling how to physically form words with your mouth.
Reading skills – rhyming books are somewhat predictive and easily memorised, and can help kids feel like they can read and give them confidence. As they get older, pointing to words as you read can teach the concept of one written word = one spoken word.
When you read have fun. Do silly voices, and vary your volume level. Mem Fox recommends that even when your child won’t sit still, they can still listen to the story, and by varying voices and volume levels you can hold their interest. Playing with their toy cars while you read it is still beneficial to them.
Talk about the pictures, and ask “what do you think might happen next?”. If it’s a farm book, you could count the number of chickens on the page, or ask “what sounds does a cow make?”
There were a few books my kids LOVED, but I disliked reading, or got sick of reading. If you really dislike reading a book for whatever reason….it might become temporarily misplaced or only come out now and again. We placed a small box in our lounge room with a selection of books for easy access, that we regularly rotated. Those that were always kid favourites usually lived in the box though.
Utilise other people, especially if reading to your child feels like a chore. Our kids used to love sitting on Pa’s lap with a book and listening to him read whenever they visited. Audiobooks are great for car trips, or when you need to entertain the children for a few minutes. Also, many libraries run a Storytime program with singing and even crafts, which saves you from having to organise an activity.
Reading is a wonderful skill, that opens up the world to us. If we can read, we can learn; whether it’s learning how to fix a bike, how rainbows are made, or how to let our imagination run wild with silliness. Not all kids will be natural readers, but exposing them to lots of books is a great way to give them a good start, and find what interests them.