The child you care for may be your own, a family member’s, or your employer’s. In any case, these early years are critical when it comes to setting the child up for success. You likely know that reading to your child matters. But do you know why? Or when to start? If you have questions about reading, this guide will provide the information you need.
Why Reading Matters
You want your child to succeed in school—at least, most caregivers do. The most important thing you can do to promote literacy and a love for learning is to read to your child. In addition to these benefits, reading also offers these advantages:
- A greater bond between child and caregiver. When you approach reading as a nurturing activity rather than a chore, you allow time for you and the child to bond. This kind of interaction is irreplaceable.
- Improved speech development. When the child listens to you read, he or she picks up on the basic sounds of language. Over time, this will result in greater speech development and communication skills.
- Understanding of how books and reading works. Believe it or not, your child doesn’t have the innate knowledge that books read left to right. By reading to your child early on, you’ll help to prepare him or her for school.
- Improved logic skills. The right books will allow your child to recognize cause and effect. As he or she begins to grasp abstract concepts, his or her logic skills will improve.
- A love for reading. A child who loves to read will find greater enjoyment from school and education. When children develop a love for reading, they carry this trait through their lives.
As you can see, plenty of advantages come from reading to a child. If you want to instill traits that lead to academic excellence, reading is a great way to get started.
When to Start Reading
Now you know why to read to your child, but when should you start? Research shows that it is never too early! Even newborns can benefit from having a book read to them. A newborn won’t understand the words you say. However, the tone and rhythm of your voice will prepare him or her for later language and reading skills.
Most importantly, reading to your newborn allows the child to respond. Over time, you may begin to notice the infant moving his limbs to the rhythm of your voice. This type of interaction allows the child to sense his or her surroundings and react to them. It also helps the child understand and respond to emotions. The fluctuation of your voice will help the child understand that different words have meaning.
Finally, reading a book to your child presents him with visual stimuli. Over time, he or she may begin to recognize shapes, colors, and letters.
How to Find the Best Books
As you prepare to read to your child, the last step involves finding the best books for allowing the development we’ve discussed. Make sure to consider these factors when you make your next trip to the library:
- Quality Illustrations. As we’ve mentioned, the illustrations on a page allow for visual stimulus. As you shop, look for books with a variety of colors and shapes. Make sure that the text and pictures complement each other to aide in your child’s understanding.
- Age Appropriateness. As much as you love the Harry Potter series, your child may not be ready for that level of maturity just yet. Your best resource here will be consulting with other parents to find out what books are age appropriate for your child. If all else fails, you can always read the book first to ensure its appropriateness.
- A Good Story. In order to help your child understand cause and effect, you want to choose books with strong morals. That being said, the books should also sound interesting and well-written if you want your child to enjoy being read to.
With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding the best books for your child. And remember, if you haven’t read to your child yet, it’s never too late to start! Take advantage of the developmental benefits and pick up a book with your child today.