Parents are often told to read to their kids to help with language and literacy skills, to read often and start early, but aren't really given good advice on when, how, and, most importantly, why.
Long before your child sounds out their first word, or even begins to recognize the first letters of the alphabet, reading can help them learn important preliteracy skills, like print awareness (e.g. how to open and flip through a book, that English is read left to right, etc.) and rhyming (that's why we love Dr. Seuss!).
From birth through adolescence, here are some of our favorite reasons for reading to kids early and often:
Right from the get-go, reading to your baby can become a sweet part of the bedtime routine. The sound of your voice and being held close while hearing a story create a calming vibe, making it easier for your little one to doze off. Plus, bedtime stories become precious bonding moments between you and your child, building trust and security. Even though babies might not understand the words yet, they pick up on the rhythm of language.
As your baby grows into a book-chewing toddler, reading is an awesome way to keep expanding their language skills. Books with text expose toddlers to a wider range of words and more complex sentences. Want to keep the conversation flowing with your little one? Try using a wordless book and give them sentence starters like, "Oh! I see a BIG..."
through the preschool years
Preschool-age is when kids start to figure out emotions, and reading can help them explore feelings. Pick books that talk about emotions, friendship, and problem-solving. These stories give your child valuable insights into handling social situations. Characters in books can become role models, teaching important life lessons and encouraging empathy and understanding.
into elementary school
Even when your child can read on their own, keep reading together or listen to audiobooks. Kids can understand stories beyond their reading level, and listening to more advanced books helps continue to develop their language and socio-emotional skills. It's a great time to expand their critical thinking, too. Try making statements like, "I wonder if he was feeling nervous," to get your child to share their ideas.
As your kids grow into teens, stick to the reading routine you started in their early years to keep the family bond strong. Try listening to audiobooks when driving or going on road trips. If bedtime gets quieter and more private, find new ways to make reading time fun and enjoyable for everyone.
Reading to your kids from babyhood to adolescence is a gift that keeps on giving. It helps with language, cognitive growth, emotions, and school success. Plus, it creates lasting memories and strengthens the bond between parents and children.
I’m currently listening to Ra the Might Cat Detective with my elementary aged kids – what fun new books have you been reading?
Do you have any questions or concerns about your child's speech and language development? Reach out today to schedule a free initial consultation!