Reading aloud to your child daily beginning at six months of age until they're eight years old will help them discover the joy of reading. For young children, children's books with rhyme, rhythm and repetition work best. Read daily at about the same time. Right before bedtime works well. Toddlers may initially squirm and become distracted during story time, but eventually they’ll learn to stay put for the duration of the book. Picture books at a young age are excellent. If your child wants to hear a favorite children's book again and again that's ok. Select books for your child that are above his or her reading level that match your child's interests. Vary the subject matter as well as the type such as fiction, poetry, magazine articles and non-fiction. If your children are several years apart you will need to read to them individually.
Reading aloud to children:
- Develops a positive attitude toward books as a source of pleasure and information
- Increases vocabulary
- Expands the child's knowledge base
- Stimulates imagination
- Sharpens observation skills
- Enhances listening skills
- Promotes self-confidence and self-esteem
- Offers many new friends since book characters can become quite real
- Contributes to the child's problem-solving skills
- Satisfies and heightens curiosity
- Encourages positive social interaction
Reading to young children is excellent preparation for formal reading instruction in school. The intelligence children will ultimately have is developed in large part before they attend school. It is believed that 90 percent of children's brain development occurs during their first five years of life. When you read to a child, you are building pathways in their brains needed for successful reading experiences. The child will develop auditory perception that allows them to think about how words sound. Reading stimulates children's language development as they are like little sponges imitating everything they hear.
Listening to stories will enhance their vocabularies and help them use longer sentences. Early reading for toddlers has been linked to a better grasp of the fundamentals of language as they approach school age. Another wonderful plus in reading to children is that it increases their attention spans and ability to focus to what is being said. In addition, reading makes children more curious - a trait that must be fostered in young children or they will never acquire it. And of course, their knowledge of the world will expand. Reading also promotes critical thinking. Asking your child about what he or she likes about stories helps him or her learn to think through situations. These conversations can teach your child to analyze and form opinions.
As your child approaches a major developmental milestone or a potentially stressful experience, sharing a relevant story is a great way to help ease the transition. For instance, if your little one is nervous about starting preschool, reading a story dealing with this topic shows her that her anxiety is normal.
In the spring of 2000, the U.S. Department of Education revealed the results from a long-term study that it had conducted. The study concluded from the research that children who were read to by a family member three or more times within a week were twice as likely to achieve reading scores in the top 25% as compared to children who had not received this benefit. Pie Corbett, an educational adviser to the government, had said "Children who are told stories are the ones who first form abstract concepts across the curriculum – in other words, being read to makes you brainy."
According to “Reading Tips for Parents” from the U.S. Department of Education, there are many things you can do to start children reading.
Get Ready To Read
- Point out printed words you see anyplace you go.
- Bring along children's books and writing materials whenever you leave home.
- Create quiet, special times and spaces for reading to children.
- Show children the importance of reading by reading books, newspapers, and magazines.
- Turn off the TV and cuddle with your child and a good book.
- Take your child to the library to pick out favorite books.
Create Strong Readers
- Take time to read every day.
- With large-print books, point to the words as you read.
- Read a favorite book over and over again.
- Read books with rhyming words and lines that repeat.
- Discuss new words. Stop and ask about the pictures and what's happening in the story.
- Read a variety of children's books—fairy tales, song books, poems, and non-fiction.
Another benefit of reading books frequently to a young child is that it provides quality time for the child and parent. Parents will discover that time spent reading and talking about books will provide them with a positive bonding experience with their child. Additionally, reading can be a springboard for many other parent-child activities. Kids who are exposed to reading are much more likely to choose books over video games, television, and other forms of entertainment as they grow older.
As a parent, you have the power to boost your children's learning potential simply by making books an integral part of their lives. Reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do to prepare him with a foundation for academic excellence.
Some favorite children's books are classics that have been around for generations, such as The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time, Where the Red Fern Grows, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Hobbit, and Alice in Wonderland. Some of the old classics make it to current best-selling lists, while some newer titles by contemporary authors become top-selling children's books.
The Night Before Christmas - Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas was included in the list of the top five best-selling children's books by the New York Times in December 2009. The story is actually a Christmas poem about Santa Claus, which was first published in the early 1800s under the title A Visit from St. Nicholas.
Nubs - Published in November 2009, Nubs became No.4 on the best selling children's book list at the New York Times in December 2009. Nubs is a true story of an Iraqi dog of war and the marine who formed a unique friendship with the canine. The book teaches children a little about life in a war zone, while appealing to the dog lover.
Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series is a best selling collection about the adventures of the young and talented wizard, Harry Potter and his friends. The first book in the series was published in 1997. As of June 2008, the book series has sold more than 400 million copies and has been translated into 67 languages. The last four books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history.