Are you one of those who wonder why one would bother to read to a two year old child that probably wouldn’t understand a word of what’s being read? Well, here are 10 reasons it’s good to read out loud to your child; it’s never too early to start!
1. A ‘Need To Know’ basis…
Children need to be taught close to everything they learn. Reading to them at an early stage will make books familiar and welcome, so that they won’t struggle to keep up when school eventually starts. While I wasn’t deliberately read to as a toddler, my dad was a script writer, among other things, and often had to rehearse the lines he had written for the characters he created. My first story book, an illustrated version of Hansel and Gretel, was given to me by my uncle who advised me to nurture a hunger for reading and learning as a key to success in life. That advice paid off.
2. Olympian Scholars
Some fantasize about it while others experience it- the day the class teacher or proprietor/head mistress says, ‘Oh, your child is such a fast learner, one of the best in his class!’ Except for those very few ‘gifted’ children, most intelligent kids are intelligent only because there has been a conscious effort by their parents, and siblings in some cases, to practise reading with them when they were toddlers or engaged them actively in games that have to do with words (and figures). So, another reason you should read to your child is so that he can catch up fast in his academics and become an Olympian scholar. According to J. Richard Gentry Ph.D. in his article- Raising Readers, Writers, and Spellers, teaching reading to preschoolers and being ready for kindergarten can be accomplished easily and informally with a little literacy activity each day in short durations.
3. Close Your Eyes and Imagine…
Reading to your toddler helps to build her imaginative skills. The stories and illustrations in books help your tot develop and exercise the ability to think vividly. This in turn helps her to be generally creative in the long term, especially when it comes to problem solving. That’s why it’s good to digress in the middle of a book and ask your tot questions about the story or to make a comment about his own personal experiences and how it relates to the book being read. This will help him reach a deeper level of engagement in the art and act of reading.
4. Talk Like a Grown Up!
Reading to toddlers help them develop the ability to communicate clearly. According to Tricia O’Brien, editor of American Baby, babies who were read to regularly from 6 months were able to develop twice of what she called ‘receptive knowledge’ at 18 months than those who were not read to regularly. That means they learn speech patterns, accents and intonations, and these they apply when they start talking. Books written for children are also believed to contain three times as many rare words than everyday talk, so, if you want your tot to make you proud when she starts to speak comprehensibly, go stock up on some kiddies’ books and start reading to her.
5. A chapter a day…
A chapter a day drives the devil away! This is a popular saying that pertains to the Bible and religious pursuits. In this case however, ignorance is the devil that will be sent fleeing as you start reading to your child as early as possible. This directly affects your child’s intelligence, world-view, and the ease with which he or she functions in the society in the short and long term, as he or she will be more interested in reading not just story books but any other written information that appears on other media as well.
6. Wow, My Brain’s a Camera.
Between the ages of 6 and 18 months, a child’s brain is at its peak. As you read to children, they imagine or visualize, developing an unwavering attention span, and so increase their capacity to remember these images. Sometimes though, it’s the words and intonation that they latch on to or memorize. If your tot has become fond of a particular book, deliberately live out a passage or a character and see if she will not notice. This is a good way to test her attention span and capability to recollect. You can also observe her recite poetry or passages of stories as she grows older.
As for their attention span, it may be a little difficult to get a restless child to sit still through a book. Don’t force them. If they want to flip to the next page, allow them. In fact, read what is on that page with them. If they get too restless, take a break. Just keep on doing this because no effort is wasted. Little by little, your child’s mind is being drawn into the adventurous world of books.
7. Books, Cuddles and Love.
Reading to your toddler offers an opportunity to bond. Through physical contact, she feels the vibration of your voice and the emotions you try to bring alive as portrayed in the story book you’re reading. She plays with your hand and sometimes, places her hands on the page. All these physical contacts deepen her bond with you or whoever is reading to her. Reading is therefore one of the best ways of bonding with your child and vice versa. According to Meredith Lord, a child development professional, reading aloud offers a world of privacy, dignity, and love for both of you.
8. E! for Kids
Don’t we have tons of fun when we mimic a friend or some celebrity’s/our boss’s voice when he’s not within hearing range? Of course, we do. Don’t you think it will be a lot more fun to your tot who is new to the nuances of the spoken word? When you read to your child, try to get into character. For instance, in the story of the three bears, you can change your voice when you’re reading a dialogue between papa bear and mama bear or talk like you’re angry when a character in the story is angry. This will amuse your tot tremendously and will have her looking forward to the next reading time. Yes! No matter what you think about books, reading can be entertaining to you and your tot.
9. SHH! LISTEN.
As you read to your child, she starts to imagine, and the drama that is being played out in her mind’s eye keeps her quiet. Unconsciously, the ability to listen is born and developed. You may assume that the ability to listen is given much like common sense but look around you and I’ll bet you won’t find many people who have the common sense to listen without interrupting. This ability of listening properly is an ingredient that is needed to improve the quality of relationships all over the world, no matter the age bracket. In essence, reading to your toddler helps her develop the ability to listen, and properly too.
10. When I Grow Up…
Finally, and definitely not the least important, your child will grow fond of some characters in the stories. This, as well as the lessons gleaned from these stories, are building blocks for the kind of person your child will grow up to be. Stories like Pinocchio can help build an honest character while a nursery rhyme like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star will help your child develop a reflective character.
Well, with these ten valuable reasons, we hope you’ll find reading to your tot enjoyable with the conviction that what you are doing is priceless. Those squeezed or ripped off pages of your tot’s books are comparably insignificant to the benefits of reading out loud to her. She’ll be grateful for it in the near and bright future.