Research has shown that the single most important thing that a parent can do to help their child acquire language, prepare their child for school, and instill a love of learning in their child, is to read to them.* From the moment a baby is born we are bombarded with information from leaflets, books, email bulletins from baby websites, family and friends about the importance of speaking to our babies regularly and this is followed consecutively by the need for us to read to them.
Everyone buys books for gifts and you naturally purchase books when they are on offer especially the favourite classics, you join the library and that in itself is an exciting way to spend an hour or two with your child. Before you know it you have books lying around in every corner of every room in your house!
We KNOW we should be reading to our children, after all it is what we are told all the time, however, perhaps not all of us understand WHY we should be reading to our babies and toddlers. Ten top reasons to read to your child include:
- Children who are read to consistently by their parents often begin reading earlier than their peers.
- A lovely way to connect with your child and build a bond around learning.
- Insight into what your child is interested in.
- Following a character’s actions in a story helps develop problem solving skills.
- Children who are read to develop a love of reading.
- Reading to children helps to develop their imaginations.
- Reading exercises our brains and improves concentration.
- Gives babies information about the world around them.
- Reading improves a child’s vocabulary, leads to more highly-developed language skills and improves the child’s ability to write well.
- Helps to prepare children about new upcoming events e.g. arrival of a sibling or a visit to the dentist
Whilst most of us try our hardest to read to our children it can sometimes seem a little like ‘groundhog day’ as the request for the same story is asked for day in and day out for weeks on end before the book is carefully hidden so they can be persuaded to change to look at different book. Indeed ‘A Room on the Broom’ becomes deeply philosophical after reading it for the 500th time!
Bedtime stories are a favourite part of the day in many households, your little ones all clean and snuggled up in their beds (any naughty behaviour that day mysteriously disappears). Siblings often allowed in the same bed as you all cuddle tight and read the story watching their faces as you say the words. However, reality is that the same questions are asked every night (and often answered by the child themselves)…delayed bedtime tactics are cleverly used as children turn back pages to start asking other questions whilst you are trying to finish the story and get your child to sleep and have some precious ‘ME’ time!
Younger babies may wave their hands excitedly when their favourite book comes out and adores touching the shiny wheels in ‘That’s not my Tractor’. However, they can also delay bedtime reading as they try and turn the pages back to the soft fur they had been touching moments ago whilst you are mid sentence. When they realise this tactic doesn’t work they then start to wriggle out of your arms as they spot a cupboard slightly ajar which has to be opened that second so they can proceed to empty the contents of their vests and sleepsuits on the floor!
As your toddler falls asleep surrounded by ten different books (yes corners are bent as they fall asleep awkwardly on an open page and ‘peekaboo’ flaps well used) there is something magical about that ‘picture perfect’ image!
*Russ et al., (2007)