The Importance of Reading to Children

Growing up, my parents read a story to me every night. I always assumed it was the standard in every child's bedtime routine across the country. As a teacher with my degree in Early Childhood Education, I know the importance of reading to children. The benefits associated with a simple daily bedtime story seem endless. Imagine my amazement when I read the statistic stating that only 39% of parents read to their children on a daily basis (Young, Davis, and Schoen, 1996). In a word, I was flabbergasted.

I've witnessed the struggling readers and the impact that has on their daily lives. When a child has difficulties reading, everything in school suffers as a result. Would something as simple as a daily ten minute bedtime story interaction between a parent and child prevent these kids from struggling throughout their school years? Could it really be that simple? I want parents to know how vital it is to read to their children everyday. Benefits Teaches Basic Reading and Writing Skills When children are being read to, they are taking in so much at once. Simple things experienced readers may take for granted are introduced during the first few years of life while listening to a story.

Children who are familiar with books know how to hold a book and turn the pages from left to right. They know that the book has a title. Pre-readers also understand that the book contains pictures and words and they start distinguishing words and letters. They begin to recognize that the printed text is read from right to left and top to bottom, which is directly related to beginning writing skills. School districts expect children to be reading simple word texts by the end of kindergarten, and having these basic skills can propel them toward success.

Teaches Basic Listening Skills It's true, as I experience it in the classroom everyday. Some children don't have the ability to sit still long enough to listen to a story. It can be possible that some children may have trouble because of a disability, but others may simply lack the insight to what story time is all about. Making story time at home a daily, fun and engaging activity can encourage children to get excited about story time at school which can also discourage behavior issues.

Promotes Vocabulary and Language Skills Just think of all the new words children hear from books. Our daily conversations do not require much use of complex language or vocabulary and can hinder the development of a child's oral language. Reading to a child can introduce so many new words, especially nonfiction titles.

Children's literature provides great models of language for children. In hearing the flow of the writing and the innovative words, especially in repeated readings of the same text, can nurture children's language development. Builds Knowledge of the World As in language development, reading exposes children to worlds of new information.

As a teacher, I used books to teach children about a topic, such as a place, or a person, or a topic. The amount of information a child can learn from books is never-ending, which leads into the next benefit. Fosters a Love of Reading Enabling children to enjoy reading is one of the most important gifts a parent can do. Kids will learn reading skills in school, but they will come to associate reading with work, not pleasure.

As a result, they may lose their desire to read, effecting their schoolwork and desire to learn. When a parent shares an exciting story with a child, and in turn, gets excited with the child, the parent is showing how much fun reading can be. Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, encourages parents to lead by example by stating; "Make sure your children see you reading for pleasure other than at read-aloud time. Share with them your enthusiasm for whatever you are reading".

Encourages Parent-Child Bonding Reading aloud also creates a special time for parents to bond with their children. Cuddling together for a bedtime story, you'll be helping your children develop a lifelong appreciation for reading. (Reading Aloud, n.d.) Builds Self-Esteem Children often want to hear the same story over and over.

Just as adults may need to hear something more than once to remember or understand, children are the same way. Trelease (2001) makes a very interesting point, "Those of us who have seen a movie more than once fully realize how many subtleties escaped us the first time. Even more so with children and books". He also points out that repeated readings can turn a child into an expert on a particular book. The child feels good about himself and connects that good feeling with reading (Trelease, (2001).

Written by Constance Anderson Teacher University of South Florida Grad Student Mom co-owner of http://www.tinytotboutique.com

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