We hear it all the time, reading aloud to our children is so important. But why? Aside from the obvious benefits of exposing our children to language, supporting brain development, and helping them build a foundation for later reading success here are 8 benefits to reading aloud with our children.

Strengthens cognition

Our cognition is our ability to perceive and understand the world around us. It’s responsible for mental processes such as memory, problem-solving, abstract thinking, conceptualizing, language, and decision making. When we read aloud to our children it supplies them with background information about the world around them, allowing them to bridge the connection to what they see, hear, read, and experience. It also provides a means in which a child can learn to vocalize their feelings and experiences. During a read aloud your child’s brain is making connections in rapid fire and strengthening the already existing ones. The more we read aloud with our children the more their vocabulary will continue to grow and the better they can understand their place in the world.

Promotes Bonding

Snuggling and reading with our children can be an intimate and emotionally strengthening experience especially when we are present. It’s more than just the reading aloud that helps develop our children’s social emotional well-being. As parents when we fully engage with our children, we are expressing to them that they are important to us and worthy of our time. The attentiveness, physical closeness, and genuine interest is far more important than the story or words themselves. Reading aloud can be a very nourishing experience for our children. You are not only promoting bonding you are supplying emotional security, self-confidence, and the ability to recognize one’s feelings.

Provides Enjoyment

Children mostly enjoy being read to. When we read with enthusiasm, make clear distinctions in character’s dialogue, exaggerate the silly or dramatic parts, invite our child to be a part of the story-telling it becomes a fun experience for them. Reading aloud increases the likelihood in their interest to read themselves, ultimately setting them on a journey towards being a life-long reader. When a child is engaged in a story it sparks imagination, encourages curiosity and deeper meaning, and organically stimulates conversation. When we enjoy the experience of reading aloud to our children, so will they.

Improves Focus

Being read aloud to allows children the opportunity to enhance their listening skills. It requires a certain level of concentration that exceeds that of watching a television show. The storyline happens at a slower pace encouraging the child to pay closer attention, observe, and focus in order to comprehend. The repetition of this process over time can result in longer attention spans and improved concentration.

Builds Empathy & Understanding

The act of reading aloud exposes our children to variety of different characters, lifestyles, circumstances, and cultures. Our children will begin to see what it means to be human in every aspect. This is a profound, empowering, and necessary exposure. There is a deep-rooted connection between empathy and literacy. Reading aloud allows ourselves and our children to step into another’s life, feelings, and ideas thus increasing overall awareness. There may be times that a book acts as a mirror to our children enabling them to feel seen and understood. By talking about characters, themes, and concepts we can create a sense of connection and rapport. For this reason, sharing a diverse collection of literature is essential in expanding their capacity for empathy and understanding.

Expands Vocabulary

The majority of a child’s vocabulary is obtained in everyday conversations. Reading aloud to our children increases that exposure exponentially. Through reading aloud children will be introduced to a more diverse and robust vocabulary. Learning new words also sparks child-driven conversations into exploring definitions. Have you ever heard of the “million-word gap”? A study found that young children whose parents read them at least 5 books a day enter Kindergarten having heard 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to at all. Astonishing!

Allows Children to Explore Big Emotions

Emotional intelligence is a valuable quality to have. Children who develop this quality tend to act more kind towards others and have a stronger sense of self. It’s important to encourage our children to explore emotions through diverse, inclusive, and meaningful stories. Be sure to ask open-ended questions to assist children in exploring emotions. Example being “How did this story make you feel?”, “How do you think you’d feel if the character’s experience happened to you?”, and “What is a good way to handle this emotion?” Bottom line, examining and discussing big emotions helps children to be better equipped to deal with them.

Establishes Connection Between Written & Spoken Words

When children are read aloud to, they begin to see the association between printed and spoken words. They begin to recognize the difference in the ordering of spoken words and printed words. Spoken language is an inherent by-product of wanting to communicate within their environment. As children learn to read and write they begin to associate the way words look with the way they sound. Reading aloud helps children develop print & phonological awareness they will later use to read and write.

Continuing to read aloud to our children once they become independent readers is just as important. Did you know that only 17% of parents of kids ages 9-11 still read aloud with them while 83% of kids ages 6-17 report being read to is something, they either loved or liked a lot? Check out my upcoming blog post about the importance of reading aloud to big kids.