Reading to Children
Reading to children has a wide range of benefits and is considered by educators to be of such great importance that it is pretty universally recommended as one of the most important things parents can do for their children. This article discusses the benefits and some approaches to reading to children.
Benefits of Reading to Children
Reading to children is one of the things that can help create a life-long love of learning and reading. Reading books helps introduce them to the culture of reading. It shows them such basics as holding books right side up, reading from left to right, and turning pages. It also shows them being careful of books and treating them with respect.
Reading to children provides critical support in their learning to read, and results in better success for them as they learn to read. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to children daily from the time they are six months old. Early childhood educators might recommend beginning even earlier.
Besides all the “good for you” part, reading with and to your children can be fun. It allows you to laugh together and cry together and find out important things together. You can even get a chance to revisit old favorites, or venture into some books you wished to read but never found time for.
Reading to children can include the whole family and older children can take turns in the reading, which gives them practice and gives the younger children something to look forward to. Finally, reading aloud as a bedtime routine is a way to slow down after the day and help make the transition to sleep. The “bath-book-and-bed” routine is common in many households and carried out regularly, provides a pattern in which reading has pleasant and fulfilling associations.
Approaches to Reading to Children
Reading to children doesn’t have to only take place at bedtime. You can read anything suitable to them at any time: labels in the supermarket, emails at the computer, text messages, advertisements, magazine articles, news on the Internet, or comic books.
As your child gets holder, he or she may want to get involved. The child can choose the book, hold the book, and turn the pages. As he or she begins to recognize words, you could play a sharing game where your child is responsible for reading one particular word in the story as it appears (you can use your finger as a guide). You can also encourage your children to tell stories which you record for them: then you can read them their own stories!
Although it can be fun to read as a family, if you have more than one child, experts suggest that it is a good idea to make time to read to them individually. This will allow you to choose books (or allow them to choose books) that reflect differences in age, taste, and temperament. One child might want to hear the same book over and over, while another might have a voracious appetite for new material.
You can also share the task of making sure your children are read to by taking them to story hours, commonly offered at local libraries. This also gives them an opportunity to see someplace besides your home where people have an enormous fondness for books. It also gives them access to many more books than most homes are likely to have. For many children this is simply a pleasure, but for the picky child, they may be able to find books that interest them among this wider offering when they couldn’t with a smaller selection. The librarian is likely to be helpful in making recommendations. Visiting bookstores is another way to convey to children that this love of books is not just some crazy quirk of their families.