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10 reasons to read to your child

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I am happy to share this list of 10 reasons to read to your child.  I read to my child because, first of all, I love to read.  And I love children’s books.  I know that my love for literacy stems from my own mother, who read to us constantly when we were young.  But why read to a baby or toddler who doesn’t understand the words?  Or runs away?  Or even chews on the books?  Are they listening?  Well, all of those experiences help to create a reader — so we must keep at it every day!

I hope this list of reasons why I should read to my child (and infant!) helps encourage you to read to your child even more, so they may become a lifelong lover of books!

{This post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy.} 

Connecting literacy with comfort.

An infant attaches to a loved one while reading a book and will create a lifelong bond with parent and literacy through reading together.  Reading is beneficial, and can start, from day one!

A child needs a picture book that says “good night,” or talk about the child’s world in a way that gives feelings of safety and love” (Hunt).

Developing behaviors towards literacy.

  • Handling books: Holding a book right side up and turning pages in the correct direction (left to right).
  • Developing reading behaviors: “Talking” and mimicking the reader’s voices and sounds, pretending to read the print/words.
  • Picture and story comprehension: Understanding that pictures can tell stories and events in time. My 20 month old daughter’s favorite book right now is Have you seen my duckling? This almost-wordless book is a delight to her as she turns the pages and searches for the missing duckling. She understands that each picture will be different and each new one will continue the story sequence of the last.

Building a broad vocabulary.

Did you know that “children’s books have 50% more rare words in them than does adult prime time television and the conversation between college-educated adults” (Cunningham and Stanovich)? Conversation only provides the most basic and common lexicon to children — they are only taught the most rare words through reading.

83% of the words in normal conversation with a child come from the most commonly used thousand words” (Trelease).

More words are used in the written language than the spoken language.  Children learn new words through reading.  They will begin to explore and use this new language while speaking themselves! This helps them construct their own oral language.  Their thoughts will become spoken words which helps with building relationships, problem-solving, and communicating with various groups and for different purposes.

Most theorists are agreed that the bulk of vocabulary growth during a child’s lifetime occurs indirectly through language exposure rather than through direct teaching. Furthermore, many researchers are convinced that reading volume, rather than oral language, is the prime contributor to individual differences in children’s vocabularies” (Cunningham and Stanovich).

Comprehending new ideas.

  • Children learn about a variety of genres, topics, and themes from literature.  This helps children to develop and learn how to handle a broad spectrum of situations emotionally, socially, psychologically, spiritually, physically.
  • During and after reading a book: Ask your child to retell the story, or ask them questions based on what you just read.   Do this to ensure they are comprehending the story line and topics.  This is particularly useful when introducing a completely new subject.

Connecting themselves to the text.

A child sees similarities and differences between their circumstances and the book. For example, “Jesse Bear is a bear, but he has a mommy and daddy just like you!” Talking like this will help your child to make text to text connections.

“What other books have we read with a family with a mommy and daddy?” Berenstain Bears?  Little Bear?

“Papa Bear ate a gulp of honey for breakfast, what do we eat for breakfast?”

Understanding that letters create words and thoughts and stories.

  • Reading provides rich experiences with counting words, discovering syllables in words, rhyming, and listening to the sounds in words.
  • Though they aren’t yet “reading,” many children will point to the words and “pretend.” My son has started to do this.  He points to the words as he “reads” — this is a beginning stage of reading!  And he has even memorized many of the books we read!
  • My son has memorized many of our Dr. Seuss books.  Rhyming books, and books that have repetitive sentences and sequences are easiest for children to learn and memorize. I am just shocked at how well he knows Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You?, Green Eggs and Ham, A Wocket in My Pocket, and Hop on Pop. Children will learn. They just need the tools, the books, to be set in front of them!
  • Your child will begin to develop phonological and phonemic awareness from reading books!  Your child will begin to listen for, and see, the first letter of sentences and words.

Informing themselves about the natural world around them.

Fiction texts are loved by both of my children. They gravitate towards books with real animals, and my son, in particular, has become enthralled with rocket ships and trains and tractors. Informational texts about these subjects, with lots of interesting photographs, can teach your child long before they can read the words.

I always love to incorporate a book into our learning time or experiences.  (For example, an animal book before and after the zoo, gardening books while planting, tractor books after visiting a farm or seeing a farm in a car ride, etc.)

Reading poetry nurtures a child’s mind.

Poetry can broaden a child’s vocabulary and sense of their language.  Poetry can help children fall in love with their language of words! {See my post on our favorite poetry collections and free printable recitation cards: poetry for children!}

Rhyming verses, in particular, teach phonics long before children are reading. Repetition of nursery rhymes and familiar songs begins to train a child’s mind towards memorization. Memorizing is a lifelong skill used in learning, and later, to find success in life and at a job! This skill has been undermined in progressive educational thinking, at the detriment of children’s education.  {Also see my post explaining, What is Classical Education?}

Children will become enthusiastic about reading and learning to read!

Become a reading role-model to the child in your care. Reading with you will show your child that reading is a worthwhile activity.  Show them that you love to read too by sitting down with your own books!  Children will choose books as an activity at home and look forward to sitting down with a book on their own.  What a wonderful choice for a child!

Creating unified family experiences.

We are not without strife in our house (this is putting it mildly).  But, I know how to calm my children.  I read to them.  They know that, whether with me or away from me, a book will calm and quiet their souls.

My heart is happy every time I peak into my son or daughter’s room and I see them with a stack of books.  They both adore reading.

For my 20 month old daughter, lately, she opens up each book on her shelf and tosses it to the side. She does this to almost every shelf in the house. Daily. She is reading. Exploring ideas and stories and pictures and thoughts.

For my son, I watch him smile as he looks at the familiar friends on the pages of his books.  He is beginning to “read” his stories outloud, and recognize the beginning capital letters of sentences!

Children will read. Give them a book. Watch magic unfold.


Get a printable version of these 10 Reasons here!!


For further reading:

Honey for a Child’s Heart, Gladys Hunt, quoted above

The Read Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease, quoted above

Best board books for baby

5 things children need before they can sound it out

Reading comprehension for preschoolers

5 benefits to reading aloud to your child 

Research on Reading, Keith Stanovich (see What Reading Does for the Mind, quoted above)



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