Why it is so important to read to your child?

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Young children who are read to regularly by family members experience multiple benefits.

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives” Roald Dahl, Matilda.

Other benefits include boosting children’s literacy development, as well as their social-emotional gains, and increasing their likelihood of later overall school success. – Child trends Databank (June 2015).

Right from the latter phase of pregnancy when experts say that babies can hear sounds outside of the womb, reading aloud to the baby becomes incredibly important as babies begin to learn and appreciate sounds even before they start to form words later on.
Once babies get acquainted with images and sounds from these books, it becomes easier to associate these images and sounds with real-world objects. This helps with their brain and cognitive development. When they have understood the rhythm and pattern of spoken language, written words then becomes easier for them to recognise. Even when they are able to read on their own, it is still important to engage them in reading so that when the habit is formed, it lasts for a lifetime.

Apart from strengthening the parent-child bond, reading gives your child a better chance of success right from his/her first day at school. Studies have proven that children who develop a good reading habit are less likely to drop out of high school.

Also, statistics from the NCES have shown that children who were read to by a family member were more likely to count 1-20 or higher, write their names and also read or pretend to read, as compared to children who were not. Other studies have also confirmed the wide gap in performance scores between children who have been exposed to reading materials and those who have not.
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In summary here are six tremendous benefits of reading to your child:
· Reading activates and exercises the brain: reading involves the brain much more than any other activity such as playing a game on an app, watching movies and the like.
· Reading to a child better prepares him/her for school: As mentioned earlier, children who read exhibit more academic competence and intelligence from preschool and are much more likely to in school longer.
· Reading improves a child’s imagination and creative thinking: When children read, they are exposed to a world that they didn’t have to experience physically. This enables them to think outside the box and develop the skills of creativity, they begin to understand cause and effect and can grasp logic also in situation which present.
· Reading builds a much wider store of vocabulary: A child’s mind is very receptive and absorbs new words much more and so this can be very helpful for the future, in terms of helping the child’s language abilities.
· Reading improves concentration: When children learn to sit still and pay attention, whilst focusing on a story, this may help them to focus and concentrate in other aspects of their life.
· Reading makes a lifelong reader! Whatever a child is trained with right from the word go is much more likely to stick with it for a lifetime. And as the saying goes, “Readers are leaders”.

From personal experience, I can say that reading is one of the most valuable gifts you could ever give to your child as a parent or caregiver. I remember reading with my mother from a young age, as she herself was a book worm. We had a ritual of reading before bed time but I must say this really set the tone for me and my love of books as an adult. It was a gift passed down that I now know I will give to my own children one day and as you can see from the benefits outlined, it really helps our children in so many ways when we read with them.
So please put away the ipads, mobile phones, despite the busy schedules and make time to engage your child with books that will not only entertain your little munchkins or put him or her to sleep but will ultimately communicate the message of the importance of reading, a gift which your child will have for a lifetime.
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References
· Child Trends Databank. (2015). Reading to Young Children. Available at: https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=reading-to-young-children
· U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2000

Blog post written by Dr Rebecca Heron (Psychologist and founder of Knufflesitters nanny agency).

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