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Published on March 24, 2020

mother reading with her three boys

Enjoy Reading Aloud With Your Children

Curling up with my kids and a favorite picture book is one of the best parts of the day. Reading aloud to your children is an amazing way to bond and increase their reading skills.

Taking time daily to read together has been shown to benefit children in numerous ways. Benefits from reading to your child begin right from the start. Even though infants can’t always understand the words that you are reading they do benefit from that special one-on-one time with a caregiver. Reading to your baby can also help them develop important visual skills like tracking and focus by looking at the colors and patterns in books.

As kids grow, reading will promote memory and sequencing skills, build vocabulary, and help teach concepts like colors, numbers and shapes. Reading to children also teaches them reading-readiness skills, for example, that text is read from left to right and how to turn pages. This time spent together can really strengthen parent and child bonds.

Studies have shown that children who are read to on a consistent basis have decreased aggressive behaviors and less difficulty focusing. Children who are read to frequently have better language skills because the words that they are exposed to while reading are often words that may not typically hear in everyday conversation.

There are clearly many rewards for you and your child that come from reading together. So how can we increase time spent together reading?

  • Designate a special place in your home for your child’s books. A sturdy, low shelf will make books accessible.
  • Making reading a priority. At least once a day, turn off the screens and give your child your undivided attention as you read.
  • Make frequent trips to the library. Children are more likely to be interested in reading if they have had some say in what they are reading.
  • Avoid reading on tablets or reading devices. Children benefit from holding books and turning pages.
  • Try to not rush through reading just to get to bedtime. Leave time for making predictions about what will happen next in the story, allow kids to ask questions.
  • Don’t be afraid to read things besides books with your kids: magazines, graphic novels and cookbooks are other fun things you can read together.
  • Older children still enjoy being read to. School-age children still benefit from this time with parents. You can take turn reading pages and find books that are tailored to your child’s interests.

Reading together can provide a lot of rewards for parents and children. The biggest reward is often watching your child grow to love reading. We wish you many hours of happy reading with your child.

By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

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