Reading aloud to children is one of the most important things you can do to ensure their future success, and more and more Americans seem to be jumping on the read-aloud bandwagon. While only 78 percent of families read to their pre-kindergarten-aged children frequently (three or more times a week) in 1993, this increased to 86 percent in 2005, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
It's never too early to start reading to your kids. Experts recommend starting as soon as they're born.
"Children are never too young to have stories read to them," says Nancy Verhoek-Miller, a specialist in early childhood education at Mississippi State University.
The benefits are so profound, and kids form so much of their intelligence potential during the early years of their life, that experts recommend reading aloud to your child as soon as he or she is born, and continuing indefinitely.
Why Read to Your Kids? Here are 12 Important Reasons
"The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children," a Commission on Reading report found.
In fact, reading is so important that a non-profit group called Read Aloud America is traveling to different schools to promote literacy, encourage a love of reading in adults and children, and increase children's prospects for success in school and life.
Not only will reading to your child help him develop language and listening skills, and a sense of curiosity, but it will help to strengthen the bond you share as well.
Here are 12 of the key reasons to start (or continue) reading aloud to your kids today.
- Build a lifelong interest in reading. "Getting kids actively involved in the process of reading, and having them interact with adults, is key to a lifelong interest in reading," said BeAnn Younker, principal at Battle Ground Middle School in Indiana.
- Children whose parents read to them tend to become better readers and perform better in school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
- Reading to kids helps them with language and speech development.
- It expands kids' vocabulary and teaches children how to pronounce new words.
- Reading to toddlers prepares them for school, during which they will need to listen to what is being said to them (similar to what they do while being read to).
- Reading to older kids helps them understand grammar and correct sentence structure.
- Kids and parents can use reading time as bonding time. It's an excellent opportunity for one-on-one communication, and it gives kids the attention they crave.
- Being read to builds children's attention spans and helps them hone their listening skills.
- Curiosity, creativity and imagination are all developed while being read to.
- Being read to helps kids learn how to express themselves clearly and confidently.
- Kids learn appropriate behavior when they're read to, and are exposed to new situations, making them more prepared when they encounter these situations in real life.
- When read to, children are able to experience the rhythm and melody of language even before they can understand the spoken or printed word.
Top Recommended Read-Aloud BooksWant to read aloud with your kids but not sure what to read? Here are some of the top picks out there for kids of all ages.