If I were to listen and follow every single piece of advice about parenting from family, doctors, teachers, blogs, books etc, I’d have little to no time to eat, sleep, or you know, live.
The amount of recommendations I see everywhere I look about the things I really must be doing to make my children better, smarter, more popular, and more, is kind of ridiculous. However, if there is one single thing that every parent must be doing, is reading to their child.
Yep, that’s right.
You could totally skip the 1,000,000 after school activities. Or the gazillion arts and crafts projects which you must do to keep your children engaged, and busy at all times. But you know what you should not skip? Reading to your child.
Trust me. If there is one thing I regret about my parenting ways when my older kiddos were little, it is that I rarely read to them. I could blame it on my youth. But I was almost 24, so that excuse is lame. Truly, there is no excuse for it. My love of reading knows no limits, which makes it even worse.
The importance of reading to your child
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I guess I somehow figured that if I lead by example, they’d follow suit. Oh boy, was I wrong!
It took my oldest daughter until she got to high school, and met the right teacher, to develop a love for reading (Thanks a million, Ms. W!). And my son? Yeah, I am still trying REALLY hard to get him more interested in reading. They both read, my daughter much more than my son, obviously, but they both got a late start.
That parenting mistake didn’t become obvious until my little Ms Emma was born. She was seriously hooked on breastfeeding, and therefore I had a ton of time to read while she was attached to me like a leach. That also gave me a lot of time to read to her. And so I did.
And let me tell you something, it made the world of difference.
Reading to Ms Emma has been crucial in her life. It has had a lot of benefits. Not only for her, but for our relationship as well. Read on to find out how!
I have no doubt that the time I spend reading to my little one has made us incredibly close. While I am close to all 3 of my children, Ms Emma and I have found that the time I spend reading to her is ours, and ours alone. We both value that time. No matter how crazy the day has been, or how busy we are, those 20-30 minutes I spend reading to her at night are for just us to enjoy a good story together.
Reading takes us in wonderful journeys. That means that we always get to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. It’s like living a 1,000 lives. By reading different stories, we get to understand others, and how they might feel about things in a way that we do not have a first hand experience with. Therefore, as we read we learn to empathize with others, and be more in tune with their feelings.
It really amazes me how much reading impacts imagination. As with empathy, reading opens up a whole new world of possibilities to children. It sparks new ideas and situations that they then get to use in their play time, which is, after all, the primary way for kids to learn.
As shown in several brain studies, reading to your child can positively impact your child’s brain development. It has been found that the more you read to your child, the better their understanding, and language processing is. Studies have also found that the earlier you start reading to your child, the better. Reading is so important to a child’s brain development, that it has also been found to ward off mental illnesses, and disorders, such as ADHD, anxiety, and more.
Most kids spend a lot of their time going from one set of toys to another. That is the biggest downfall of an era where as parents we want to always give them more things, newer things. It’s F.O.M.O. parenting. However, the time you spend sitting and reading to your child is the best opportunity to keep them focused on one thing. Even if the child asks a hundred questions about the story. Or points a several pictures in the book while you read. It might not appear so, but those questions, and the imagery that catches their attention are in fact keeping them involved in the story. This is a sign that they are truly concentrating on the story, even if they appear scattered.
Books, especially children’s books, are full of new ideas to inspire children to create. Whether that be a new world for their next pretend game, or how to use materials they find around the house to make a kite, it doesn’t matter. Children are motivated by things they read, see, and enjoy, and reading to them every day will always be a great way to get those creative juices flowing.
Our language skills develop by our exposure to new words. When you read to your child, the chances of them catching new words that they haven’t heard so far is pretty good. Always make sure to help them understand new words. If you see that they seem a bit confused, then try asking them questions about what words you think they might not know. Explain the meaning in a way they understand, and have them repeat the word back. This will certainly help add new words to their vocabulary.
Being able to understand what we read is a life skill. Like it or not, we will forever face times when we need to read something, and truly grasp what the main idea is. When you read consistently to your child, you have a great chance of helping them develop this skill. This is especially important and true of children, since they tend to want to read the same stories over and over. As tiresome as this could be (I can’t count the amount of times I read Corduroy to Ms Emma!), repetition gives them many opportunities to really comprehend the story. And the more you read to them, the better they’ll get at this.
I would admit to be a big supporter of higher education. However, even I recognize it’s not for everyone. And that’s perfectly OK. However, not getting a formal higher education degree should not mean that learning and being proficient about many subjects isn’t important. When you read to your child, they gain not only knowledge, but also a thirst for it. This could make a significant difference in their lives, whatever paths their lives take.
Love of reading
By reading to your child, you can expect them to have a love of reading that they might not otherwise develop. As I found out from experience, it is not always enough that they watch you read. When you read to yourself you are certainly teaching by example. It shows them that there is definitely something interesting about books. However, when you read to them, you are also involving them in the process. And if you find books that spark an interest in them, they’ll really get it. It will then become natural to seek a book to read and make it fun for them.
Love of learning
While not all can be learned from reading, it certainly is a nudge in the right direction. Yes, children need to practice doing things. And yes, they can also learn from watching others do things, either face to face or from videos. However, there is nothing like using the important skill of reading comprehension to learn new things.
The one thing no read will ever say is that they are bored. I mean, if you love books, reading stories, and learning new things, how could you possibly be bored? This is by far, my favorite thing about books. Even when the weather is crappy, or you are too tired or sick to go play outside, having the option of reading a book makes for instant entertainment.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that you read to your child daily. You are busy, I get that. I am too! Parenting is hard, and it’s only made harder by all the things we are constantly told we must do. But trust me on this one. If you truly want to positively impact your child’s life, but lack the time to do a lot, then reading is your answer. Those 20 minutes a day, will have a long-lasting effect in many aspects of your child’s life. And other than loving them, and keeping them safe, it is the best you could do for them, for their future.
Do you read to your kid every day? Have you seen any other benefits from it? Please, share with us in the comments below. Inquiring minds want to know 😉