According to a recent study conducted for Neilson Book Research, the number of toddlers being read to daily in the UK is in decline. There’s a rise in the number of children watching video content, and parents report feeling uncomfortable in book shops.
This worrying trend highlights more than ever, the need for parents to read to their toddlers regularly. Reading aloud to children builds literacy more than talking, and provides essential developmental benefits. In this guide, we outline why it’s important for parents to read to their child from a young age.
Reading Strengthens the Parent-Child Bond
Reading with your toddler gives you quality time together. A twenty-minute reading session before bed is a great way to interact with your child without distractions. Try to create a quiet, calming atmosphere by switching off the TV and other noisy devices.
Read the book aloud and ask your toddler questions to engage them with the story. Let them turn the pages and make observations about the pictures and storyline.
Setting aside time to read with your toddler helps meet two of their basic needs – safety and exploration. Reading time provides a supportive environment for them to learn from you, ask questions, and explore their curiosities.
Reading Can Help Calm Your Toddler
After a day of running around and expending energy, reading in the evening can help your child relax and calm their mind before bed. When children read, their senses aren’t over-stimulated by moving images and sounds. The rhythm of the spoken word and the interactivity of reading can help your child ‘wind down’, especially before bed time.
Reading with Your Toddler Helps Develop Communication
Reading to your toddler not only increases their vocabulary but it helps them develop their emotional intelligence too. Children’s books often contain themes that relate to feelings, which can help them identify their emotions and communicate how they feel.
Reading the same books over and over again isn’t boring to a child. In fact, they enjoy the routine and repetition of hearing the same words spoken aloud. It helps them identify language patterns, which in turn, helps develop their speech.
Books with pictures, rhymes, actions, and flaps are particularly good for developing communication in young toddlers as they’re more interactive than text-based stories.
Reading Improves Concentration and Discipline
Children aged 16-19 months can normally give their full attention to an activity for 2-3 minutes before becoming restless or distracted. Reading helps improve a child’s attention span, which can aid their learning and development.
When reading to your child, try to look for cues that they’re becoming restless and use the opportunity to turn the page, ask another question, or change books. The more frequently you read to your child, the better their concentration will become, especially if you integrate it into their daily or nightly routine.
Reading for Pleasure Encourages Lifelong Learning
According to a report published by the Department for Education, there is a positive relationship between reading frequency, enjoyment and attainment. Reading to your toddler from a young age encourages reading for pleasure, which encourages a lifelong love of learning. Children who enjoy reading and don’t view it as a chore, are more likely to experience academic success.
One of the biggest factors in a child’s reading pleasure is choice. According to the DfE’s report, when children were asked which book they had enjoyed most, 80% said it was the one they had chosen themselves.
You can help develop your child’s pleasure for reading by letting them choose the books they want to read. Providing rewards and incentives for reading can also help them associate reading with feelings of positivity.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of reading to your child, take a look at this short TEDx Talk:
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If you’re looking for ways to encourage your toddler’s love of reading, take a look at our reading posters for kids. They make a great addition to bedrooms and classrooms alike. Here are two of our favourite reading prints below: