The other day a friend of mine asked, "I know that I am supposed to read to my children. Everyone says to read, read, read. So, I do it! But why? I know that I am supposed to read, but why?"
This question really got me thinking about the true importance of reading to children at a young age. I answered the question with the typical response of, "Reading often to children fosters a love for reading and builds vocabulary." Really and truly, reading to children does so much more. Reading to our children is one of greatest gifts that we can give them at a young age. There are countless benefits to reading to children, may of which we do not even realize. Let's learn about those benefits so that when your little one brings you the same book for the tenth time today, you will gladly read it again!
The Benefits of Reading to Children
Reading to your child is one of the most effective ways to help your child build a strong literacy foundation. In fact, there is a direct correlation between the number of books in the home and reading proficiency in school. Children that are read multiple books on a daily basis have a strong vocabulary and oral language foundation, are exposed to concepts of print, alphabetic knowledge, and text comprehension skills. Children with a strong foundation in these early literacy skills are proven to perform better in reading, writing, and spelling in elementary school.
Builds a Strong Vocabulary – Reading is a natural way to teach unique and unknown words. Books are filled with words that children may not hear in everyday conversation at home and at school. Books open the door to teaching new words. Remember to take the time to slow down and discuss unknown words when reading. Make an effort to use them in everyday conversation and write them in a special place to reference again!
Builds Knowledge of Many Different Concepts – Knowledge is power! Reading to children exposes them to a variety of topics, problems, and ideas that may not come up in everyday conversation. Building this knowledge helps children apply new ideas and thinking to other aspects of their lives.
Exposes Children to Concepts of Print – There is no easier skill to teach when reading than concepts of print! When we read to children, the books are of course full of print! Taking a minute to discuss where the title is located, modeling how to move your finger when reading, or chatting about a period at the end of the story are easy ways to incorporate this skill and have been proven to build stronger readers in the future.
Builds Visual and Oral Comprehension Skills – Reading provides many opportunities to ask questions about what is being read in the story and seen in the illustrations. Asking questions that relate to children’s lives and challenging them to think beyond what the book is saying are great ways to build comprehension skills and engage in meaningful conversation.
Exposes Children to the Alphabet – Reading is one of the easiest ways to begin introducing the alphabet to children. There are alphabet books written that feature so many different topics...animals, dinosaurs, food, Legos! Choose alphabet books that feature objects that interest your child. Simple ABC books with clear illustrations are best. Point to the letter, say the letter name and the letter sound. Next, point to the objects that begin with that sound and encourage your child to join in and repeat.
Fosters a Love of Reading: There is nothing better than cuddling up with a little one and sharing a book! Reading together builds imagination, exposes children to so many wonderful topics and social-emotional learning skills, and is a perfect time to bond!
Children who read 5 books a day have heard 1.4 million more words that a child who is rarely read to by the age of 5.
Brain scans of young children prove that children that are read to more often have more active brains.
Comprehension skills in children as young as age 4 are predictive of later performance of reading comprehension in upper elementary school grades.
According to 2015 NAEP data, less that 15% of student that had between 0 and 10 books in the home scored proficient in reading. 50% of students with more than 100 books in the home scored proficient in reading.
Ways to Make Reading More Meaningful
Take It Slow: A page or idea in the story may spark your child to share his/her own story, or even get off topic. This is ok! There is so much value to child-led conversations so embrace the discussion, engage in conversation, then get back to the story.
Ask Deeper Questions: Think about questions that go deeper than “right there” answers from the book. Make a connection to your child’s life or another book that you have read.
Chime Time: Re-read books again and again to build familiarity! When reading, pause at a familiar phrase, rhyming word, or sentence and allow your child to CHIME IN with the ending!
Point Out Print: Take time to read books with simple, repetitive sentences. Point to each word as your read, then take your child’s finger and touch and read the sentence again. This builds an understanding that print has meaning, builds directionality, and builds one-to-one correspondence.
Joint Attention: Look at your child's face when you are reading. Where does their attention lie? Use this to guide questioning and conversation when reading.
Set up a teacher training today!
Help improve your text comprehension teaching skills in the classroom. Reach out to set up a professional development course at your school, focusing on using active reading strategies to get the most out of read alouds in the classroom!
Reach out! 630-846-0764. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a training today!