Who doesn’t love a story? Plus, we intuitively know that reading to our children is healthy for their development. Some children may initially be distracted or fidgety during storytime, but parents must coax, persevere and figure out ways to make the tale interesting – and eventually they will be eager to listen and stay still till the end of the book.
Books are essential to developing a child’s memory retention and unlocking its learning potential. Reading comprehension helps ensure stronger self-discipline, longer attention span and better memory retention, which will help the child in school and beyond.
Reading to a child has other benefits too. Even as children grow older and explore the world around them, reading serves as a nurturing activity to strengthen the parent-child relationship through undivided attention and recaptures the proximity of early childhood.
Sensory experiences help build pathways in the brain. Reading helps children develop auditory perception, which allows them to think about how words sound. Children will absorb everything around them, so reading makes them richer in experience and more curious about the world around them, eventually developing in them a passion for learning. Reading also reinforces the basic sounds that form language, helping your child learn critical language and enunciation skills while mastering the fundamentals of language. Likewise, “pretend reading” is a critical pre-literacy activity. With enough reading, your toddler will begin sounding out words on its own.
Reading to toddlers teaches them to express themselves and relate to others in a healthy way. Observing interactions between the characters in the books, and in contact with the parent-reader, teaches children valuable communication skills. It also teaches children to think logically in various scenarios, grasp abstract concepts, recognise cause and effect, and utilise good judgment. Over time, children will come to relate these lessons to events in their everyday life. Similarly, topical reading can help ease your child into a major developmental milestone or potentially stressful experience, such as the first day of school, or a visit to the doctor. A relevant story could help demonstrate that anxiety is normal, and suggest ways to overcome it.
Finally, reading to your child can demonstrate to them that reading can be entertaining as well as informative, and will make it likelier that they will choose books over, say, video games in future. Creating a family tradition of bedtime reading gives your child something to look forward to everyday, and something precious to look back on in the future.