The Top 3 Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Kids - MetroFamily Magazine
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The Top 3 Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Kids

by Sarah Brown

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Every year, research continues to highlight how reading is a fundamental building block to learning. Literacy can impact graduation rates, earning potential, justice-involvement, and even health outcomes. The simple act of reading to your children is one of the easiest ways you can set them up for success. There are many documented benefits, but they can all fall within three categories: language, connection and socio-emotional.

1. Language

Children acquire the bulk of their early language skills through listening. From birth, reading to your children allows them to pick up the different sounds that words make and how language flows, which helps them when they first begin speaking. As children grow older, being able to follow along in a book while being read to, builds a connection between written and spoken words, increases vocabulary and helps develop fluency once they begin to read. A great place to start is by reading picture books to your children. The pictures will draw their interest and studies have shown that picture books contain 70% more unique words than what children hear through normal conversation, so they can significantly increase their vocabulary by listening to them.

2. Connection

Children are not the only ones receiving the benefits of reading together. The quality time spent reading allows parents to create happy memories and strengthen the bonds with their children. Having dedicated time to read to your children also helps everyone to decompress and interact outside of the hustle and bustle of the day. This time of togetherness can give children the opportunity to share their worries or feelings in a safe place. Reading aloud, especially a variety of books, also aids children in discovering where their interests lie and shows them the joy in reading. This can be even more important for neurodivergent kids. Being read to allows them access to books that they wouldn’t have otherwise and without the stress that can come with learning to read on their own.

3. Socio-Emotional

Books are a great way for children to learn about others and explore the world. When children hear stories about how characters navigate obstacles or see the world, they learn how to adapt those behaviors into their own lives. They also offer the opportunity for parents to delve into different topics with their children. For instance, choosing a book that focuses on certain emotions can help your child learn how to recognize and process their own big feelings. Sitting down to listen to a book even helps with basic things like increasing kids’ attention spans, learning how to control their own behavior and soothing anxiety.

I know that it can sometimes feel awkward or intimidating if you are not used to reading aloud. So here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Start early, even newborns can receive positive benefits from being read to.
  • Add it to your routine.
  • Let your kids choose the books.
  • It’s okay to read the same book over and over. It still provides the same benefits.
  • You can read any book to your kids if you deem it appropriate, not just picture books.
  • Even after kids can read to themselves, keep going!
  • Asking questions about the story or having your child guess what they think will happen next, is a great way to take their learning a step further. This helps with comprehension, understanding the theme of the book and critical thinking.
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative. Do silly voices for each character, get stuffed animals to act out the scenes, sing or create games based on the book. Let your children’s imaginations run wild!
  • Be a good role model. Kids are more likely to want to read if they see their parents reading.
  • Remember, if you are having fun and reading with your child, you can’t go wrong!

 

Sarah Brown is a librarian with the Metropolitan Library System and a mother of two. She is a passionate advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion within literature and programming, so that everyone can see themselves represented at the library. The Metropolitan Library System serves Oklahoma County with over 19 locations, open 7 days a week, and with resources available 24/7 online.

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