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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

The importance of reading regularly to children

Reading to children has many wonderful benefits....

As parents, we are often seeking ways to provide our children with the best opportunities for growth and development. While we focus on their physical health and educational milestones, it's easy to overlook a simple yet powerful activity that can have a profound impact on their lives: reading to them. Reading to your children is more than just a bedtime routine or a way to pass the time. It is an investment in their future, fostering a love for learning and nurturing essential skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.


From birth, babies are hardwired to develop language skills, and early, consistent exposure to a wide variety of language patterns and expressions helps them to do that. When children's language skills are developing, the experience of being exposed to words and language while also having the sensory experience of sitting with a caregiver or hearing a parent's voice actually helps to engage neuronal development and make kids receptive to cognitive stimulation.


Here are some compelling reasons why reading to your children is so important:

Building Language and Literacy Skills: Reading aloud exposes children to a rich vocabulary and helps them develop strong language skills and learn about the world. They learn new words, sentence structures, and the rhythm and flow of language. This exposure enhances their communication abilities, expands their vocabulary, and develops their reading and writing skills as they grow older.

Igniting Imagination and Creativity: Books have the power to transport children to magical worlds, imaginary lands, and extraordinary adventures. By reading to them, you ignite their imagination, inspire their creativity, and encourage them to dream big. This imaginative play helps develop problem-solving skills and stimulates their cognitive abilities.

Bonding and Emotional Development: Snuggling up with a book creates a special bonding experience between you and your child. It is a time for undivided attention, shared excitement, and emotional connection. The warmth and security they feel during these reading sessions help build strong parent-child relationships and foster emotional intelligence. Parents can also use reading time as a chance to talk about emotions and how to deal with them. For example, you might say, " Have you ever felt as angry as the character in the story? What would you do if you felt that way?"

Cultivating a Love for Reading: When children are exposed to books and stories from an early age, they develop a love for reading. They see books as a source of joy, knowledge, and discovery. This love for reading becomes a lifelong habit that opens doors to endless learning opportunities, fuels their curiosity, and broadens their horizons.

Enhancing Concentration and Focus: In today's digital age, where attention spans are diminishing, reading to your children can help counteract the distractions. It cultivates their ability to focus, concentrate, and pay attention for extended periods. These skills will prove invaluable as they navigate through school and later in their professional lives.

Fostering Empathy and Understanding: Books expose children to diverse characters, cultures, and perspectives. Through reading, they develop empathy and understanding for others, learning to appreciate differences and embrace diversity. This helps shape them into compassionate individuals who can navigate the complexities of the world with kindness and acceptance.

Creating Lifelong Learners: By reading to your children, you instill in them a love for learning and a curiosity that will continue to drive their intellectual growth. They understand that knowledge is not limited to classrooms but can be found within the pages of books. This can become a lifelong quest for learning, empowering them to explore and discover throughout their lives.

Incorporating reading into your daily routine doesn't have to be a daunting task. Start small by setting aside a few minutes each day for reading together. Visit the library or local bookstores to explore a variety of age-appropriate books that capture your child's interests. There is some evidence that reading printed books is more engaging than digital books, but if access to e-books is easier for you, don't despair - the most important thing is to make reading time together meaningful, whichever medium you use.


The benefits of being read to differ depending on the child's age. In early infancy, the reading material doesn't have as much importance, since the main benefit is having them hear spoken words and language. As children get older, content takes on more significance. Books with relatable themes like starting school or dealing with bullying can be a useful entry point into discussing whatever your child may be experiencing. As children become more independent learners, they internalize that reading can be rewarding and are more likely to pursue reading on their own. But there's no reason to stop reading to children once they're able to read themselves. Kids often enjoy hearing books above their ability level (for example being exposed to chapter books while they are still only reading picture books on their own). And the benefits of reading seem to transcend whatever language you're reading in...so do expose them to whatever language(s) you're comfortable reading in!

Remember, the time you spend reading to your children is an investment in their future. It is a gift that will equip them with the tools they need to succeed academically, emotionally, and socially. So, let's embark on this literary journey together and build a brighter future, one page at a time.

Happy reading!


Be well,

Paula



Dr Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. She is also a certified children's mindfulness teacher and Positive Discipline Parenting coach. You can find out more at www.paulathedoctormom.com.

Our AI wellness assistant has contributed to the writing of this article.

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