Updated: Oct 8, 2020
From the moment a child is born, reading to your child every day matters to ensure they develop the literacy and learning skills required for success in school and life.
For more than two decades, research through, The Children's Reading Foundation, has shown improved literacy and school readiness skills of children across the country and in Canada by simply reading to a child. The impact on children creates a multifaceted approach that engages families, caregivers, schools, and communities during children’s vital early learning years of birth through third grade.
Reading also strengthens children’s social, emotional, and character development. According to a recent study, reading to children as early as birth, is linked to decreased levels of aggression, hyperactivity, and attention difficulties later on in life. The study’s lead author shared this insight with The New York Times, “When parents read with their children more . . . they learn to use words to describe feelings that are otherwise difficult and this enables them to better control their behavior when they have challenging feelings like anger or sadness.”
If reading isn’t part of your daily routine already or if you want to make it a more positive experience — here are three tips for making the most of read-aloud time:
Start early. Reading to babies helps build bonds, vocabulary, and habits. Make it part of your daily bedtime routine. If reading a story is part of their routine from infancy, chances are as they approach toddlerhood, your child will take the lead in making sure this continues.
Read the pictures. Illustrations are visual clues that can help kids build their vocabulary and be their emotional toolkit for expression. Before reading a book, skim through the pages. Look at characters and the setting and make predictions about what might happen. While reading, pause to look at characters’. What is their body language look like and ask questions such as, How do you think she’s feeling right now?
Stretch it out. Some nights, it’s tempting to rush through books on the way to “Bed Time”. But sometimes if you just press the pause button before turning the page, maybe stretch before, take the time to look at a picture, ask a question, or share reactions. Help kids make connections between what they read and the world around them.