As I grow older, I feel more and more fortunate that my parents read to me when I was young. Seemingly every night as I laid down to sleep, my mom or dad picked up a book to read me to bed. While I don’t yet have children of my own, I feel strongly about how that practice has positively contributed to my life, which is why I’m sharing the benefits of reading to your child with you!
Some of our favorite selections included Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece, and Thomas the Tank Engine by Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son Christopher. In the digital age, I’m not the only one pining for more parents to read to their children. So let’s examine why we feel it’s so important.
It’s a great way to spend quality time together
Reading to your children for just 20 minutes a day, 7 days a week computes out to 121 hours of bonding time every year (1). The advent of the iPad puts digital entertainment at the fingers of children from an earlier age than possibly ever before. If you want to spend quality time with your kids before they grow up, reading is a great way to do so.
When I grew up, video games were just becoming popular and my parents sometimes struggled to balance allowing us to do something we were clearly passionate about and creatively engaging us in more tactile learning. Stories passed down from generation to generation are the key to how we relay knowledge.
It’ll help your children communicate
Studies show that reading aloud to your child for 20 minutes a day exposes them to 1.8 million words of text every year, which equals 137 new words per minute. Exposing your children to more vocabulary, speech patterns, and enunciation will improve their ability to communicate as they grow.
As I’ve grown, I’ve found myself in many situations where communication was difficult. But then I stop to think how much MORE difficult it might be if my parents didn’t start reading to me and telling stories at an early age. The Internet has improved the possibility of communicating over greater distances than ever before, and this makes our need for the ability to communicate effectively even greater.
They’ll be more likely to succeed in school …
A 2013 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science (2) found that “reading to your child in an interactive style raises his or her IQ by over 6 points.” While a higher IQ doesn’t always correlate to success in school, studies have also proven that children who have not developed basic literacy skills BEFORE they enter school are 3-4 times more likely to drop out in later years.
From my experience, reading, spelling, grammar, and writing were things that came naturally in school. While I recognize that this could be due to a number of factors, I must believe that the amount of reading my parents did for me when I was very young certainly helped.
… and after they graduate!
The sad truth is that many states utilize third-grade reading scores to predict the number of jail cells they may need in the future. An astounding three out of every five prisoners in the United States are illiterate. That fact alone speaks to the importance of reading so strongly that I’m considering concluding this article right here, but if that’s not enough for you, there’s more.
Studies have also found that a child’s average lifetime earning potential is increased by as much as $50,000 for every year they are read to. This means if you read to your child every year until they start school for just 20 minutes a day, you’re essentially gifting them $250,000!
While we could continue to throw statistics around all day, there’s plenty of visual and auditory evidence in your daily life to convince you of the importance of reading to your children. Humor me: tomorrow when you wake up, start keeping track of how many times you read or process helpful information visually or audibly. I guarantee it’s A LOT!!
As we grow older we tend to take a number of things we learned at a young age for granted. Just driving to and from work every day we likely process at least 5-10 road signs that help us avoid traffic, circumvent construction, and get where we’re going. During a typical day at the office, we read emails, make phone calls, exchange ideas with colleagues, and so much more.
Communication is such an integral part of our lives that we often overlook it. Social media is certainly changing the way we communicate. Many believe that it has significantly increased our need to share and the urgency with which we do so. Certainly, we can probably agree that more sharing is better, with obvious questions about what is being shared.
But one thing seems clear to me: our need to learn and master language will remain. As the digital age speeds up all of our lives, please, please, please find the time to slow down and read to your children. It really could make all the difference.
Let’s Connect! Tell Me What You Think!
If you liked what you read, didn’t like what you read, or have questions about what you read, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below if you are inspired, perplexed, saddened, or angered by any of the ideas presented above. I welcome any and all comments and will do my best to respond soon!
I’d also encourage you to share this review with others if you found it particularly insightful or helpful. Be sure to tag @ballisterwriting on Facebook or Instagram if you do! The point of social media, after all, is to be SOCIAL! I don’t need followers or likes, but I’d like to contribute to a real conversation about how we continue to improve as a society and as individuals
Thanks for your support!
4 thoughts on “Benefits of Reading to Young Children”
Tucker. You are so very right about the importance of reading to children. One thing that you didn’t mention was that readers are better writers. I was a high school English teacher for eight years. One thing that I could tell – without a doubt – was that those students who regularly read were the very best writers. They understood the structure of language and they had a vocabulary that was far above those of the non-readers. Their general communication skills were far above those who did not regularly read.
I know these days that children are enchanted by video games and the Internet. But, nothing can compare to the magic that readers receive when they delve into a book. It is so critical for parents to start the cycle of reading to their children from a very early age. Creativity is increased as the reader is forced to imagine the magic of the words they are reading. Children can literally travel the world from their living room when they read. I appreciate you encouraging parents to read to their children from a very early age – to bring young children the magic and mystery of the written word!!!
Thank you for relating your experience as an English teacher. I’d have to agree that I’ve noticed similar trends amongst my peers and those who I’ve commissioned to write for my websites.
My motivation to create this article really stems from the fact that my parents read to me from a very young age. My father would actually tell us stories that he would create on the spot sometimes. It still astounds me to think back on that and I just hope I can bring that level of dedication and creativity to my household when I have children of my own!
I agree that reading is very important. I’ve noticed how my 2 year will repeat a word or phrase I’ve read to him over and over and then how he’ll try to put it in a sentence later on. It’s amazing how much they listened to what you read and how much actually registers in their little minds and how long it stays in there!
You have a great article! Keep on opening other people’s minds!
Hi Tucker, this was a coincidence to also find a post that talks about reading to your children and how beneficial it is.
It is a great post and I have to say that both my husband and I read to our three either at bed time or if they just came to us with a book. They all loved a bed time story but my daughter especially. She is now 24 and still loves reading books. My sons also both still like reading but one is better than the other.
I do think that reading to your children when they are small is a great thing and really does help them later in life.