As most parents know all too well, children have favourite books that they want to read over and over again. There is something wonderful in those stories that brings them back every time and they love hearing these being read out loud. Books are entertaining and fun but not just that, reading to kids is beneficial for their early development.
It’s never too early to start reading books.
Reading to babies from early on is one of the more beneficial activities you can do with them. It promotes wonderful bonding moments with your little one as they lay in your arms and listening to your voice which is soothing and calming for them.
When you read to your baby you’re teaching them very early language skills – even though they don’t understand what you’re saying, they will start picking up tones, pitch and rhythm in your voice.
Babies also learn through senses – colourful pictures, touch and feel books and all those funny noisy books are all a great way to encourage this.
This learning continues to toddlerhood.
Enthusiasm for a book captures a child’s mind and imagination. Seeing their excitement as they follow along with a story or start to anticipate what is going to happen next is a magical thing to watch as a parent.
Books are also a great way to develop a child’s attention and concentration, because as we know, toddler’s love to change books on us halfway through reading or can lose interest very quickly! So consistent reading will help improve their ability to sit still for longer periods, which can help for schooling years later in life.
It’s also important for toddlers to know how a book works, where is the beginning of the book, where is the end and turning a page. These simple skills help to develop hand-eye coordination, dexterity (finger movement and control) and cognitive (memory and thinking) skills.
When you read with your child, it also provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about behaviour and emotions. When a child puts himself into a story they begin to develop empathy and will start to identify with the characters and what they are feeling. So use this time to start exploring the wider range of emotions, behaviour and responses the characters are going through – “Spot looks really happy helping his mum bake a cake!”.
One of the biggest benefits of reading to your child is language development. Even though you speak to your little one every day, reading a book means using words or phrases they might not hear in everyday life and will help to extend their vocabulary.
Reading is also a great activity to do at playgroup, sharing books together can stimulate new interests and promote sharing – one child’s enthusiasm for a book can capture other children’s attention fostering children’s social skills and broadening interest. It can also be a calming activity to wind down children after all that play!
Little things you can do…..Try asking your child to retell parts of the story “what fruit did the hungry caterpiller eat?”, talk about letter sounds and words to help develop concepts for reading, like “that’s a long word, lets say the letters out loud together” “.
If you’re at playgroup, be sure you include a wide range of books for everyone to enjoy. If you want to read more about using books in your own playgroup, read about our ideas here. Or have a look at our great Make Your Own Book activity!