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By Kimberly Tureau

Why you should read to your small child

Every new parent hears that they should read to their children, perhaps even while still in the womb. This can be intimidating to many first-time parents. What are the advantages of this and will it really give a child an advantage over peers? There are several benefits that can be had both to the child and to the parents.

Children who have been read to as toddlers have been shown to have higher performance in all areas of school. Children can learn basic reading skills at a very early age. Some skills-such as reading left to right and top to bottom-are not innate for humans. These skills have been shown to give them an advantage over other children who have not been read to. These advantages can be seen in all areas of study, not just language and reading. These children show improvement in math and science skills as well. These advantages can last a lifetime, not just during early education.

Children can also develop better coping skills by being read to. In many children’s books, the main character has to overcome some conflict or struggle that can give the child an example worthy of imitation. Some subject matter that parents find uncomfortable can be easily discussed with a book. In this way both the parent and the child will be more comfortable discussing difficult subjects. Many parents find comfort in knowing that they have prepared their child for difficult situations.

Children who have been read to may also have improved communication skills. Not only do they learn how to express themselves but they have a better grasp of word sounds and tone than children who have not been read to. The child may even begin to sound out words and memorize certain favorites quickly. These are valuable skills that will be used throughout life.

In today’s world of rapidly developing technology, many children are getting less time with books and more time with tablets, phones and televisions. Many researchers agree that this is cause for concern. Parents have the responsibility to teach children that reading can be a fun and entertaining alternative. If the parent is enthusiastic about reading, then the child will likely be also. Even for parents who themselves do not enjoy reading, they may find that they enjoy reading with their children. Children often learn by example and will follow an adult’s lead. If the parent is excited to read a book, then the child will be also.

The most valuable benefit to reading with a child is the bonding that occurs. It is amazing how a rambunctious toddler will calm down and sit still when reading a book with a loved adult. It can be relaxing for both the child and the parent. And while there are statistics and studies to show the academic advantage given to these children, the most obvious benefit will be seeing that child’s smile. There are many things that parents can do to improve the lives of their children. The simplest of these is to read to them.

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