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Reading with your child can be a wonderful way to spend quality time with your child while providing a major developmental boost. According to the University of Melbourne, children whose parents read to them every day are developmentally a year ahead in comparison to children whose parents did not read to them. Researchers also found children who are read to at least three times a week become better readers themselves and have improved math skills. The study followed 4,000 children for six years, beginning at the age of 4 or 5.

Other studies have found that reading to babies and infants is important for developing language and vocabulary skills. This is important because the period from birth to 3 years old is a crucial time for language development, and the boost your child receives from being read to can eventually help make transition into school easier.

The benefits of reading are so profound that even houses with access to books confer a developmental advantage on children. Research has shown that children with books in the home—regardless of the education or socioeconomic status of the parents—tend to achieve 3.2 years more education than children without ready access to books. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this educational advantage can translate into a significant difference in lifetime earnings. However, the US Department of Education states that 85 percent of juvenile offenders have reading problems and 70 percent of adult inmates are functionally illiterate.

Your local library, bookstore, school, or even doctor’s office can help provide recommendations for age-appropriate reading material. It should be noted, however, that these studies have shown the benefits of reading printed books, not computer, tablets or e-readers. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children under the age of 18 months should have no screen time, with the exception of video chatting with familiar faces and family. After that, they should be limited to 1 hour per day, with supervision. Also, the AAP found that electronic books (ebooks) can interfere with learning for children ages 3 to 5 years old. In general, parents are encouraged to stick with printed material or limited access to educational programming.

Takeaways

  • The most intense period of language development in children is from birth to age 3.
  • Children who are read to become better readers themselves.
  • Children with plenty of books at home achieve, on average, 3.2 years of higher education than children who do not have books in their homes.
  • Higher education typically results in higher earnings as an adult.

References

  1. The University of Melbourne. Does Reading to Children Give a Head-Start in Life?
  2. National Institutes of Heath. Is Baby Babbling on Schedule?
  3. University of Nevada, Reno. Books in Home as Important as Parents’ Education in Determining Children’s Education Level.
  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment.
  5. Junior League of Oklahoma City. Why focus our efforts on literacy?

Comments

  1. I find that reading to my boys at night calms them down. Sometimes he tries to read the story to us. He is 3 and his brother is 10 months old. I’m always amazed at how much of the story he remembers. We like to change up stories a lot since I get bored of the same ones over and over again.

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    1. My son is almost 3 and loves “reading” to his almost 7mo little sister. 🙂 Isn’t it the sweetest? I’m also surprised at how much of the books he has memorized. And if I try to skip pages to speed up the process, he lets me know that I did it wrong! Haha!

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  2. Great article, we read at least twice a day. It has truly helped my toddler with words and meanings.

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  3. My husband and I have been reading to our almost 2 year old since this summer and we have seen a huge growth in his vocabulary. It’s really cool to see him get excited over books!

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  4. I love reading aloud with my daughter. She’s only 1 but loves turning the pages!

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  5. My 15 month old loves being read to and pretending to read. I’ve always loved reading and used it as my escape. I’m glad it’s so beneficial for my babies now too

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  6. My boys love books, they will bring me book after book to read to them. Reading time is one of the few times they will sit still. 🙂

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    1. The Economist! I love it! My husband read the business paper to our son in the womb. Bored me to tears, but five years later my little one is a reader too!

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  7. My son is 5 and went to headstart from 6 weeks old to 4 he’s now 5 and in pre-k and me and/or his dad read to him everyday at least 2 books not long books but its something. His teacher has told me it shows that he’s read to he’s one of the advanced kids in his class and I couldn’t be prouder. The best part about us reading to him is he wants us to and he listens he’ll tell us and his teacher he likes to read and it shows.

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    1. That’s great, Kayla! Developing a love for reading is so important.

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  8. I tried reading to my son pretty much from Day 1, but he would not sit still for anything…not even to just look at the pictures. Now at 15 months old, he LOVES books! A few months ago he brought me a book, I read it to him, and he asked for it about 3 more times immediately, and we have been reading books all day, every day since then! His bedtime routine now includes a “story” per night. He gets to pick the book we read. Mostly he points out the different animals or characters we ask him to find and makes their sounds, but we call it “reading.” Sometimes he lets us actually read the words. 🙂 I’m so happy he finally loves books! I was an English major in college, so it is very important to me for him to love reading.

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  9. My kids thoroughly enjoy family reading time each night. It’s calming and relaxing after a usually busy day and it’s great family bonding for us.

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  10. Many parents tell me that their young toddlers won’t sit still to listen to a full book. When this happens just “read” the picture. Start by asking your toddler to “point to the bird”, “point to the balloon”, etc. then when they start to be more verbal, flip the game around by pointing to the bird and asking “what is this?”. You may not be following the story per se, but you are still reading!

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  11. One of the things I look forward to each day is reading to my daughter each night. We started reading to her nightly when I found out I was pregnant (hey! Reading in the womb can’t hurt, right?) and never stopped. It’s quality time together, and love watching her develop the same love of reading I developed as a young child.

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