Maybe you’re the type who loves to spend your leisure time with your face buried in a novel.
Or maybe you haven’t picked up a book since high school.
But whether or not you love to read, you probably know how crucial it is to understanding the world around you.
Before you could read by yourself, your parents or caregivers probably read to you.
But what’s the point of reading to a child so young they might not be able to understand what they’re hearing?
Believe it or not, reading to children at all ages is important.
It helps them learn to read, of course.
But it also helps with their overall speech and language development.
In fact, if you’re looking for speech therapy for kids near me, one of the things your child’s speech therapist will do is read with them.
Not every child needs to see a speech therapist.
But every child can benefit from you reading with them.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the many benefits of reading to your child.
Read on to find out more.
Benefits Of Reading To Infants And Toddlers
Infants and toddlers can’t read yet, of course.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read with them.
Reading to infants and toddlers helps them build a foundation for how to navigate the world and understand their place in it.
1. It Helps Build Their Speaking Skills
When your child listens to you read to them, it can actually help their speaking skills as they age.
Toddlers and infants learn to speak by listening to how their parents speak.
Reading with your child can help this process, because it lets them hear language they can mimic.
Books have good sentence structure and grammar, so reading can help your child learn how sentences work as well.
2. It Helps Them Discover The World Around Them
If you have a young child, you might realize that they like to ask “why” a lot.
Children, even infants and toddlers, have a natural curiosity about the world.
They absorb information at an incredible rate, like sponges.
When you read to your child, you’re exposing them to new ideas.
They might not experience these ideas in their day to day life.
The extra knowledge from books helps them understand and discover their world.
3. It Helps Them Understand How Stories Work
Understanding how stories work is a valuable tool for children.
It helps them understand others when they speak.
It also teaches them to tell stories about their own days and experiences.
Being able to understand how stories work by being exposed to reading can make your child a better communicator.
4. It Helps Build Their Social Skills
Just like building their speaking skills, reading to your child also helps develop their social skills.
Dialogue in stories can model real life dialogue and turn taking when speaking.
Books can also model social problem-solving and other social situations in an age-appropriate way for your child.
Benefits Of Reading To Preschoolers
Development is different for every child, but many children at preschool age may be beginning to learn how to read.
Reading with your child can help with this process and several other things that you may or may not have thought about before.
1. It Helps Build Their Vocabulary
Every book has its own set of vocabulary.
This is true for every book topic.
A lot of books will have vocabulary about things your preschooler wouldn’t encounter in their day to day lives.
Think about things like:
- Deep sea creatures
- Outer space
- Ancient history
- Other parts of the world
Your child will probably not run into these things in their life.
But when you read to your preschooler, you’re helping them discover these things, and more.
This gives them a new opportunity to build vocabulary.
In fact, children that are read to regularly often have larger vocabularies than other children.
This can help them a lot in school as they get older.
2. It Helps Them Want To Learn To Read
Children often learn by mimicking.
When you regularly read with your children and encourage them to read, they’ll want to mimic you by learning to read as well.
This is a great way to develop their literacy skills.
3. It Helps Them To Be More Empathic
Empathy is an important social skill for your preschooler to develop.
It involves being able to put yourself in others’ shoes and see things from their perspective.
When you read with your child, you’re teaching them to identify with the characters and process the story from the characters’ perspectives.
This models what empathy looks like in real life.
Are There Benefits To Reading To Babies In Utero
It might sound strange, but not only is it important to read with your infant, toddler, or preschooler, it can also help to read with your child before they’re even born.
There has been research done to find out if there are benefits to reading to your child in utero – and there are.
Reading to your child in utero actually helps them learn to recognize words.
In one study, pregnant people were given a recording of a made up word for their babies to listen to near the end of pregnancy.
When the babies were born, they could recognize those words and variations of it.
So reading to your baby while you’re pregnant can help them develop their language skills before they’re even born.
Tips For Reading Books To Your Child
No matter how you do it, reading to your child has lots of benefits.
If you’re not sure what to do or how to start, though, here are some handy tips.
1. Emphasize Important Words
Emphasizing important words helps your child tell they’re important and draws their attention to them.
You can emphasize words by changing the pitch of your voice or the rate of your speech as you read them.
This way, they’ll stick out to your child.
2. Use Dramatic, Action Oriented Words
When you’re talking about the pictures in books or expanding on the story, don’t just focus on the objects you can see in the picture.
Use dramatic words that build excitement.
This can include:
- Action words like run, jump, or climb
- Time oriented words like earlier or later
- Location oriented words like over, under, near, or far
- Descriptive words like smooth, tough, wrinkly, hairy, or slimy
3. Help Them Relate The Story To Their Life
There are lots of ways to help your child relate the story to their own life.
Maybe there are objects in the story that you have in the house.
Maybe the character has a little sibling just like your child.
Helping your child relate the story to real life can expand their thinking and can also make the story more interesting for them.
4. Help Your Child Understand What They’re Hearing
Expanding on the vocabulary used in a book is an effective way to help your child understand what they’re hearing.
For example, if a book references a pair of socks, you could point them out on your own body and explain “socks go on your feet!”
This helps your child understand what they’re hearing and how to make longer sentences with the vocabulary they’re learning.
Book Your Appointment With New Horizons Wellness Services Today
At New Horizons Wellness Services, we’re your experts on pediatric speech therapy, and reading is just one of the tools we use to help your child’s speech develop.
If your child is struggling to read despite your best efforts, it could be a sign of a deeper issue.
We can help.
Yours in Health,New Horizons Wellness Services
13333 SW 68th Pkwy,
Tigard, OR 97223
New Horizons Wellness Services provides a true multidisciplinary approach to mental & physical health treatments for children, adults and families.