‘Reading for pleasure is more important for academic success than the family’s socio-economic status’ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The benefits of reading to your child are limitless. Nurturing the parent and child bond, sparking their imagination and forming the foundations of their learning abilities into adulthood are core benefits of reading to children. The advantages of reading are essential for working life and cultivating these basic needs in infancy helps children avoid the under-achievement gap that can arise from neglected basic skills.
The Centre for the Economics of Education state “The best predictor of how skilled the adult will be is his or her level in primary school.” The best education systems worldwide require children to be in school from anywhere between 35 – 45 weeks to get the most out of classroom education. Having poor literacy and/ or numeracy can be a potential impediment to the individual’s life and career, and are ultimately foreseen consequences preventable in childhood.
8 Benefits of Reading for Children
Nurturing the Parent and Child Bond
Kids are constantly on the go. As your child grows older, they’ll be running about non-stop. Their natural curiosity causes them to become little explorers, constantly searching for something new. Cuddling up with a storybook at bedtime or a set time in the day provides routine and stability, essential for children as they learn best through gentle repetition. This is where reading becomes a nurturing activity between the parent and child, instead of a task or chore. Ultimately, storytime will bring the two of you closer together.
Achieving Academically Before Reception
One of the single-most beneficial advantages of reading to your child is that your child will develop a higher competency for learning in multiple environments. Each day is brand new for your child where they can learn anywhere between 10 – 50 new scenarios, interactions or experiences. The Moser Report, The 90% Reading Goal and numerous studies have shown that students who are exposed to reading before reception are more likely to achieve higher under every branch of formal education. As Dr Genevieve London, MD and paediatrician at Maine Medical Center explains, you should start reading to your child as soon as they’re born!
Better Communication Skills
The best children’s books a child remembers from childhood are the narratives they relate to in some way. As most children’s stories aim to explore multiple environments such as home life, school, day to day experiences or fantastical worlds, children are exposed to various characters. Helping your child find similarities or explaining differences to them whilst reading helps them relate to others in a healthy way. By exploring different cultures and nationalities through a range of stories gives your child a better understanding to communicate with their surroundings.
Basic Speech Skills
Have you ever heard that children learn languages easier during infancy? This is because children retain the ability to distinguish the foreign sounds as their speech is forming during their most apt learning age where 85% of a child’s brain evolves fastest up to the age 5 than any other period in their life. It’s even more likely for a child to learn a second language if it’s spoken and used by their parents. Phonetics teach the sounds of the basic alphabet and every time you read to your child or ask your child to read, you are reinforcing that bond between sounds that form basic language.
Enhanced Concentration and Discipline
Children seem to have an endless supply of energy. Kids may initially fidget and become distracted during storytime but eventually, they’ll learn to settle for the duration of the story. Routine reading at bedtime or allocated reading time teaches your child self-discipline and provides stability through achievable routines. Longer attention spans and better memory retention are key benefits of reading to your child, just before or during bedtime, allowing for a cosy and concrete sleeping pattern.
Conquering the Fear of a Classroom
The first day at school can be scary; a brand new building and new faces are a lot to take in. Reading at home with your child gives them the advantage of reading out loud in a classroom as they will already be prepared by the home environment. The repeated act of reading every day reinforces their reading ability, building their confidence and allows your child to feel comfortable when reading out loud in the classroom.
The Variety of Mediums Available to Read
The physicality of a book is fascinating, from the mesmerising illustrations to the feel of the paper itself. Having tangible materials to work with when reading means the child can physically interact with the book. Early learning board books are specially designed for excitable hands that like to grab and throw their toys around, which just adds to the fun of storytime. Touch and feel books are filled with physical sections children can press to register new sensations and musical books combine sound and song for an immersive reading experience.
The Knowledge That Reading is Fun
Dr Seuss once said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Storybooks are doorways into multiple magical worlds from the comfort of your own home. Reading to your child helps develop a natural love of learning, causes them to be fascinated by knowledge and fuels their imagination. Kids who are exposed to reading from a young age are more likely to pick a book over video games, television or iPads, knowing reading isn’t a chore, it’s pleasure.
The Half Million Dollar Gift
The Correlation Between Literacy Skills and Lifetime Earnings
The 90% Reading Goal (Lynn Fielding, 1998) states that 77% of children reading at a second to eighth-grade level at the beginning of third grade will graduate high school. Only 27% of children reading below this level will graduate.
Then it gets really interesting. Fielding concludes that “a mom or dad, sister or brother, who reads twenty minutes a day with a child from birth can first increase their chance of high 3rd-grade reading skills and then of high school graduation. When that chance increases by 2/3rds, the child’s probable increased lifetime earnings increase by $220,000.” However, this was from data taken from the World Almanac and Book of Facts (1998, 95): for earning levels by education levels. With adjusted inflation, in 2018, high school graduates stand to earn over $500,000 dollars more than dropouts.
Therefore, for every year you read with your child before age 5, their average lifetime earnings will increase by $100,000. You give a $500,000 gift to your child from birth to age five by reading aloud for just 20 minutes a day.
Research done in the UK indicates a similar trend. In The Value of Basic Skills in the British Labour Market, research undertaken in 2007 states that “Level 1 literacy is associated with having 15% higher earnings”.
What the Experts Say
One of the biggest advantages of reading to children we believe in here at In The Book is reading for pleasure has limitless rewards. Alison David, Consumer Insight Director at Egmont and author of Help Your Child Love Reading provides compelling awareness upon the multitude of positive results reading has on the child’s well-being:
“There are so many wonderful things that reading for pleasure brings to children beyond academic success: comfort and reassurance, confidence and security, relaxation, happiness and fun. It feeds their imagination, helps them to empathise, it even improves their sleeping patterns. And reading is a really important element of family life. It provides a connection between you and your child from the very early days through to teens and beyond. It’s a strong ‘glue’ for your relationship, bringing you closer together through the sharing of reading and stories. It helps build strong family ties and provides a shared set of stories and experiences which are unique to your family.”
Dr Genevieve London further explains the advantages of reading to your child in infancy, on the downloadable podcast, Reading To Your Child Has Benefits That Last a Lifetime:
“I recommend starting to read as soon as a child is born. Early exposure to language, to the written word is beneficial, not just to literary skills, but also in developing healthy parent-child interaction so it’s really crucial from the very beginning.”
The monetary value reading to your child has on their adult life is statistically proven to be advantageous in adulthood, but the simple benefits the act has on your child are equally immeasurable.