Reading to your child seems such a standard thing to do that it is sometimes possible to take it for granted. A 2020 reading survey by In The Book showed that only 18% of new parents read to their children for 20 minutes a day. In this article we outline five reasons why reading to your child, though simple, can be incredibly effective, not just in the short term, but for the entirety of their lives.
#1: Academic Performance
According to The 90% Reading Goal, a book written by a group of top education leaders within the Kennewick, WA school district, when analyzing children in the third grade, 77% of those reading at a second grade level or above will go on to graduate high school. Of those who leave the third grade reading below grade level, 74% will never catch up.
This quite alarming statistic also potentially correlates to the rest of the child’s life, as graduating high school on average leads to a $351,000 increase in lifetime earnings.
#2: Communication Skills
You’ll have often heard that a young child’s mind is like a sponge. This is because a newborn baby’s brain is about a quarter the size of an adult brain, but by age five, it is almost ninety percent of the size. Therefore, it stands to reason that these first five years are the most crucial to any human’s overall mental development and capacity.
Being able to communicate effectively is without question one of the most important skills a person can possess, and the sooner a child can get on that path, the better head start they’ll have moving forward. Early exposure to language and phonetics can accelerate development of basic speech skills through simple repetition, so much so that Dr. Genevieve London, a clinical psychologist and conscious parenting coach, recommends reading baby books to infants as soon as they are born.
#3: Parent/Child Bond
As any parent of young children will testify, no two days are ever the same. Kids are balls of energy, always on the lookout for the next adventure, and with seemingly ever-changing interests and desires. Reading, then, offers a rare opportunity to provide structure to the child’s routine, setting aside a slot, most commonly before bed, for some quality, private time between parent and child. As Alison David, author of Help Your Child Love Reading, writes:
Reading is a really important element of family life. It provides a connection between you and your child from the very early days through to teens and beyond. It’s a strong ‘glue’ for your relationship, bringing you closer together through the sharing of reading and stories.
#4: Gaining Key Social Skills
Reading stories exposes children to a whole host of lands and characters before they go out into the world and explore for themselves. This can help the child build empathy, understanding, logic and their imagination, fully equipping them for the journeys and interactions they will partake in during their formative school years.
#5: Creating a Positive Environment for Growth
In addition to developing the brain, reading can also help the child’s personality and confidence. Alison David says that “reading for pleasure brings to children comfort and reassurance, confidence and security, relaxation, happiness and fun… it even improves their sleeping patterns.”
Such feelings and experiences are crucial, as numerous studies have shown that children who grow up in stable, calm, nurturing environments will go on to be healthier and more successful in education and life in general.
In today’s world of smartphones, tablets and computers, a book can seem a little outdated on first glance. But, as we’ve shown here, the long-term effects of introducing a child to reading stretch far beyond just the initial enjoyment to overall development and life success, and due to this its importance should never be forgotten.