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National Reading Month was established to motivate people of all ages to read every day! We all know that reading impacts language and literacy skills, such as vocabulary development, phonemic awareness, and alphabet knowledge. However, the benefits of reading go far beyond language and literacy. Consistent reading habits have been linked to greater cognitive and social-emotional development as well as positive mental health.
For example, here a few benefits you may not have considered:
Reading can calm your child, especially in times of stress.
It promotes a longer attention span and the ability to concentrate.
It encourages communication and bonding between you and your child.
Reading to your child can introduce the fundamentals like turning pages, understanding that words are read from left to right and are made of different sounds, and that words can be used together to tell a story.
Reading aids in the development of critical thinking skills and problem-solving.
Children can learn to be empathetic towards others through the use of literature that values emotions and humanity.
Reading allows children to use their imagination to explore events they may be unable to experience in person.
Preschool children tend to do better in school if they are exposed to language through conversations and by having more challenging words read to them.
Studies suggest that a child’s early reading skills can affect his or her literacy scores 10 years later. Children who read earlier were able to comprehend fiction, news articles, and other documents better than the average child.
It is never too early to help children develop reading skills and habits. In fact, research cited by the National Early Literacy Panel shows that these skills and habits begin at birth! As parents, you have a powerful impact on your child’s love of reading.
Here are some ways that you can bring reading to life, and make it a cherished practice in your home:
Choose a specific time when everyone in the family reads, not just the children.
Show enthusiasm about reading and choose stories that you enjoy.
Try to have a variety of non-traditional printed literature available as well. If your child loves food, they might delight in reading a cookbook! If they are interested in cars, have manuals for them to look at.
Interact with your child as you are reading a favorite book together. For example, encourage them to predict what will happen next and share what they think and feel about the characters in the story.
Perhaps most importantly, once your child is able to read independently, do not stop reading aloud to them. Through this habit, they will continue to expand their vocabulary, build listening skills, and learn about story characteristics such as setting and plot.
For tips on how to read to your infant, toddler, preschooler, and beyond, see the following links: