The benefits of reading to your child

There’s nothing more enjoyable than losing yourself in a good book, right? And time after time, I’m amazed at the talent of writers and how they can pull a reader into their story, allowing them to immerse themselves into the story’s world. A good story is not just about delving into another space and time; it’s also a fantastic way to learn new things and a great reason to introduce reading to your little ones. The benefits of reading to your child are many!

When my children were much younger, I would read a bedtime story to them most nights. It was so much fun as I would immerse myself into character and put on different voices for each part of the story. Now they are coming up to their teenage years, they really enjoy reading. They often spend an hour before bedtime, some evenings, stuck in a good book – which I feel is an excellent way for them to switch off from their electronics!

So, why have I chosen to write on this topic for the Home-Start blog? Well, we are a charity that supports parents in helping their children fulfil their potential. Research shows that reading can help a child’s brain development, and it’s a great way to bond with your child and introduce them to other ‘worlds’. Imagination is a powerful thing, and it’s even more important these days to help them use it to full advantage. And on top of that… it’s World Book Day today!

Paula, Administrator

But why should I read to my child?

It’s well known that reading to your children helps with their development in areas such as:

  • Building a strong bond – they will look forward to ‘reading time’ with you and you with them.
  • Helping with learning – research shows that pre-school children exposed to reading are more likely to do better at school.
  • Aiding speech development – reading to your child teaches them language and how to pronounce the words and understand their meanings.
  • Improving communication skills – a child listening to their parent reading allows them to express themselves and talk with other children and adults in conversation.

So, what’s not to like, right? It really is an enjoyable experience. You can get totally immersed in the story with them, putting on different voices for each character, making silly noises for the animals, etc. And, for us adults, reading aloud in this way will help keep the child inside alive – life throws so many responsibilities at us.

What types of books are the best?

To be honest, there is no ‘best’ or ‘better’ book to choose for your child, and there are soooo many out there! When they are really young, it really is up to you to decide what story to read aloud. I always chose fun and engaging books, and short… that bit is important. Young children will not want to sit through a drawn-out story, even if you find it interesting to read yourself. Also, books with simple text, not too complicated, work best – oh and plenty of pictures!!

Another fun thing you could do is use a picture or popup book and make the story up as you go along, maybe asking your child to come up with ideas too – a great way to engage them further.

Some of my favourite books to read to my pre-school children were:

At Home-Start so many of our volunteers enjoy reading stories with children. A story may be just the thing to keep a little one occupied, so mum or dad can cook a meal, hang out the washing, or just have five minutes peace! We have a wonderful collection of books at Home-Start, that we share with children when we visit them at home, as well as a weekly story at our Family Support Group. But we would love to know what your favourites are. We are always on the lookout for new ideas and suggestions…

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