All children love to listen to stories. In many families reading aloud stories from a book of a child’s choice is a holy bedtime ritual. As time progressed, many pieces of research have been conducted on benefits of reading to children.
Parents have become more and more aware of the process and its benefits. Reading aloud is recognized and credited as one of the single most important activity in overall development of children.
What are the Benefits of Reading Aloud to Children?
Reading aloud to children helps increase their vocabulary, strengthens imagination, increases attention span. Children also get a better understanding of the world around and different cultures. The time spent by Parents reading to kids, foster a special bond between parents and children.
Fosters bonding with parents
This is the number one benefit in the list since this lasts a lifetime and surpasses all the others. A baby grows up hearing parents, other family members, caretaker’s voices around.
These voices fill the world of the little one and continue to guide along as the child grows up. Reading aloud to a child regularly provides the opportunity to go on a shared journey together.
As the parent or caretaker reads the stories explaining the unknown, the child is on a path of discovery along with a person he or she trusts. They share the adventure, emotion, morals. The bonding that gets created here is timeless.
Reading aloud also provides parents an opportunity to highlight the important character traits and undesirable ones. It offers an opportunity to teach about a sense of right, wrong in the appropriate and understandable setting for a child.
Of all the benefits of reading aloud, this one offers instant gratitude. Visible almost instantly and remains the number one motivation for parents to continue the reading aloud practice for years.
Strengthens imagination of a child
When you read a story to your child, you need not ask your kid to imagine. It is always automatic. A kid invariably understands and starts thinking when you begin building up the premise of the story. This is the power of a well-written story.
The pictures of the pages take the kid to a distant land, which the child has never experienced, but can imagine and feel. He can picture the events and try to make sense of the sequence of events with a constant flow of questions.
Children learn to become creative and more imaginative. This trait continues in later stages in life.
Also Read: When to Start Reading to Baby
Helps in language development
What happens in a story reading session? When children do not understand or know the meaning of any word from the story, they would always ask its meaning.
Younger children do not have the inhibition of asking a question again and again, even though we grown-ups do get tired of it sometimes. The storybook opens up a different world and brings new sets of the word along with it.
Repetitive story reading session enhances children’s knowledge and word vocabulary.
This is especially important and crucial for children from different parts of the world, where the medium of instruction in school is not in the native language. Story reading and listening to stories remain the number one way for kids worldwide to build language skills.
As the vocabulary increases, children learn to use correct grammar and sentence formation. This in turn helps them in speaking and articulation in a later period. Knowledge brings confidence and it reflects in the communication.
Also Read: How to Develop Reading Habit in Children
The correct style of reading aloud, pauses, tone, etc helps children to comprehend better. It is proven that children can build a higher level of language literacy at a younger age, even when they are not able to read by themselves.
This helps them do better in the future at school. Some children are observed to understand teaching faster while some others take comparatively more time.
Check out The Guardian article here, one how reading helps to become a better performer at school.
Increases attention span of children
A good story can hold a child’s attention for longer. This is a gradual process though. Children by nature are always restless. When parents start reading at the initial stage, the child will probably not sit for more than a few minutes. This is how long the children are capable of retaining their attention span anyway.
But a regular reading aloud session changes that. It becomes visible in a few months when one can notice a child sitting for a much longer time patiently listening and enjoying a story.
A longer attention span helps create crucial building blocks in the overall performance of children.
Cultivates interest in reading
The child who grows up listening to stories from a young age is more likely to grow the habit of reading at a later stage. When children enjoy reading aloud time, they want to explore the world of books themselves.
It increases reading interest in children and they learn to read faster. They will try to overcome the obstacles in the process while they are just learning to read starting with two-letter words. They cannot wait to learn to read so that they can explore the world of books more.
It also helps that the vocabulary of children who have been read aloud regularly is comparatively vast.
Hence, they start reading and comprehending faster. This would certainly give them an edge over peers and put in the path of being a lifelong reader. So, go ahead, read stories, establish a schedule, and raise a lifelong reader.
A better understanding of the world
Through the stories read to by parents, children learn about the world outside. They form an understanding of the outer world beyond their safe home. It prepares them when they need to step outside for schooling or anything else.
Stories of different cultures and various classic increases a child’s knowledge and awareness.
Teaches about reading for pleasure
Reading gives pleasure – both to the parent and children. A child grown up listening to bedtimes stories and forming happy memories will always associate reading with pleasure. Children learn to recognize that when bored, reading is a pleasurable option.
Knowing this is even more crucial in today’s digital age where online choices distractions are plenty.
Reading Aloud Tips for Parents
Chose a time to read when your baby is fed and alert. The bedtime after dinner works perfectly well. But you can read to your baby anytime. It is always good to read to your child multiple times a day, to fill up any waiting time, etc. Here are some handy tips:
- Start as soon as possible. Do not wait for the right time or the right book.
- Have a daily reading schedule and stick to it.
- Start with a small-time maybe 5 minutes and you can gradually increase to 20 minutes.
- If you are reading a new book, preview and familiarize yourself with the book in advance.
- Hold your child close, as you read. It helps children feel safer and connected.
- Act out the words with your voice. When you are showing a picture of a tiger, try to mimic a tiger sound.
- Change your expression according to the mood and scene of the story.
- Nursery rhymes are always great to start with. Encourage your child to sing along.
- Read at a good pace. Never too fast or too slow.
- Encourage your child to imagine as you read aloud.
- Take a pause between reading and enquire if your child understood.
- Have meaningful discussion after finishing reading the book. Restate the morals you would like to reinforce.
- Express your enthusiasm for book reading. It will get caught on by your child, even if reluctant initially.
- Choose a book that you enjoy reading.
- Read a book slightly above your child’s current language level.
- Repeat the same books again and again. It builds a good vocabulary and language base.
- Encourage babies to touch and feel the book. Choose a book that is designed to stimulate the baby’s sensory experience.
- Let your child carry the book around. Even a bathtub is also fine. Books for this age are made to endure all the rough handling.
- Setup a bookshelf, a small library in your house and read in front of your child often. This will encourage them to pick up a book in their free time.
Here is a fun Read Aloud video.