"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." – Dr. Seuss
Fun fact: Did you know, during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy, babies can recognize their mother’s voice and also absorb language? How fascinating is that? Personally, our minds are blown.
It is never too early to read to your baby, even if he hasn’t been born yet. There have been many research articles published that have proven reading to your baby helps advance both their cognitive and language skills. Children that are read to at an early age seem to have higher test scores, as well. Below we have broken down the benefits of reading according to age group.
Of course infants can’t read yet, but their brains are sponges! Did you know, almost 90% of your baby’s brain is developed by 5 years old? That means the more words, expressions, and emotions they are exposed to – the better. Books provide exposure to various colors, shapes, words, emotions, and situations.
According to a study done by the University of Florida, babies ranging in age from 6-12 months showed enhanced attention with books that had individual labeled characters versus books that had general labels or no labels at all. This study involved 3 groups of babies, EEG leads, and eye tracking technology to help measure attention span. You can read more about this fascinating study here.
As your child grows, their home library should also grow. The books you read to a newborn will be different than the books you read to a one or two-year-old. Children learn through all their senses. As they get older, reading can turn into an adventure with books that contain various textures and colors. They learn best when they are able to hear, see, and feel different things presented in a book. Check out this link for a more in-depth explanation and tips for what types of books are appropriate for ages 0-36 months.
When reading to your infant, you can help build their emotional awareness by reading in many voices and tones. Doing so can also make reading more fun and entertaining for yourself. As you read, follow along with your finger. Babies eventually learn that we read from left to right and top to bottom. They will also note when and how to turn the page. Babies really do watch everything we do and start learning as they become more aware and awake during the day.
As you are reading out loud to toddlers, it reinforces how to pronounce and enunciate words. It can also be a fun time for them to point to the items they can name on each page like cars, trees, houses, and more.
Continuing to read to preschoolers reinforces the things they are learning. As their vocabulary increases, awareness to various things may prompt them to repeatedly ask “what’s this?!” Although it can be annoying when you hear them ask that for the 100th time, remember that they are learning and absorbing a lot of information.
Reading to grade school children helps enforce sentence structure, use of their imagination, and helps build a more complex vocabulary. These are things not found in typical conversation due to books being more descriptive and containing formal language.
Reading to teens….wait….did you say to teens? Yes, yes we did. Although many homes most likely don’t continue to read to their children during teenage years, there is still benefit. It helps show them that reading is a priority. It also exposes them to different types of writing like descriptive writing, poems, short stories, biographies, and more.
By reading to your child, it promotes a longer attention span which will help them throughout their life. Regularly reading with your child is a vital stepping stone in assisting them to be successful for years to come.
Great, so you know how reading helps your child, but you haven’t made it a priority in your home. Don’t panic! It is something that you can start at any time. Try working it into your nightly routine. Or set aside 20 minutes before bed to read with your child. It may be hard to add one more thing to your daily list, but try to think of reading as a short adventure. It is something that can be fun and educational for the whole family to participate in.
How have you made reading time fun? Let us know below!
Kayla Loschky, RN, BSN
Special thanks to our sources: