As parents, we know that reading a book to our child before bedtime is a good routine to put in place. We also know that after the ‘witching hour’ (feed, bath and bed), our energy levels aren’t at their highest. As a matter of fact, reading a story, sometimes three times in a row at your child’s insistence, is the last thing you want to do.
So how important is it that you introduce the concept of reading to a child from a young age? Does it really make a difference in their development? Studies and research say yes.
These studies show that early language and literary development start in the first three years of a child’s life. Now this isn’t to say that your toddler should be reading and writing words. This literary development comes in the form of your young child enjoying books being read to them, exploring pictures within those books and the bonding experienced when a parent spends the time reading to them.
Reading to your child teaches them all kinds of vital skills. They learn how to physically handle the book and turn pages. It helps increase their concentration and memory. You will find your child pointing to the pictures as you read the words, showing that even at such a young age they have an understanding of the story and recognise different elements and characters. Read to them often enough, and you can even video them babbling along and pretending to read themselves.
Still not convinced? Did you know that most children’s books contain 50 percent more unusual or rare words than children’s TV shows, or even college students’ conversations? Which means your child is growing their vocabulary each time you read them a new story. And the better your child’s vocabulary is by the time they reach school going-age, the better chance they have at exceeding in their academic life.
Now that you know the importance of reading to your children, where should you start? There are many books out there to choose from. They need to be age appropriate, picture- filled and have a fun story line to follow. Buy books that are soft-covered and small in size – meaning that your tot will be able to handle them with ease.