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Mother and child reading by flashlight

The importance of reading

By Candice Hutchins

Dr. Seuss said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Barack Obama said, “Reading is the gateway for children that makes all other learning possible.”

Reading to your children and them reading to themselves is a great way to spark their imagination. It helps them learn and increase their language and cognitive skills. It prepares them for academic success, helps with empathy and emotional awareness, increases concentration, teaches life lessons and helps with social and emotional development.

Reading to kids has been proven to improve their cognitive skills and aid in cognitive development and stimulates brain cell activity. Reading helps us learn how to perceive the world around us through information processing, reasoning, language development, attention span and memory. Reading to children helps provide them with background knowledge of their world and helps them make sense of what they see, hear and read. A study done in 2013 showed that babies who are read to scored higher in language skills and cognitive development. Research done in 2018 suggests that this extends throughout childhood and into the teen years.

Reading helps kids learn to absorb information on how to form sentences and use words effectively. It exposes them to new speech patterns and vocabularies. It also stimulates the part of the brain that allows kids to understand the meaning of language and helps build key language, literacy and social skills. Studies have shown that kindergarteners who were read to at least three times a week had a significantly greater phonemic awareness — that’s the ability to distinguish similar speech sounds that are actually different — than kids who were not read to. Reading introduces kids to book language which is more descriptive and tends to use more formal grammatical structures than everyday language. It helps expand the number and variety of words kids use and is a key to lifelong learning. Reading also helps kids use their imaginations and opens the door to all kinds of new worlds and ideas.

Reading to young kids daily can expose them to anywhere between two hundred ninety thousand and a million more words by the time they reach kindergarten. When kids get read to, they have more context for the information they hear at school and have an easier time learning about new things. By reading to your kids, you can give them stronger growth in being able to hear, identify and play with individual sounds; being able to connect letters of written language with sounds of spoken language; knowing words needed to communicate effectively; being able to understand what has been read; and the ability to read text accurately and quickly.

One of the best things we can do to positively influence our child’s development is to spend time with them. Reading is a great way to do this. It provides nurturing and reassurance to a child, even as a baby. Reading is one of the best ways to help kids understand something without them experiencing it for themselves. It helps build our children’s understanding of humanity and the world around them and empathy for those around them. Books can also help children understand and handle their own feelings in healthy ways and can also help kids deal with stressful or difficult situations. Reading stories about potentially emotional situations can help start a conversation and show kids that their feelings are normal.


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