“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.”
- Albus Dumbledore (J.K. Rowling)
The benefits of reading are limitless! For children, reading promotes brain development, social skills, sparks imagination, develops language and emotions and forms the foundations of their learning.
Research has proven that reading to young children improves their cognitive skills and helps the process of cognitive development. Cognitive development is the emergence of the ability to think and understand. Reading books with your child essentially provides them with background knowledge on their young world, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear and read. Reading to your child, and the conversations that it will prompt, helps children make sense of their own lives.
Children learn to love the sound of language before they even understand the existence of printed words on a page. It is never too early to start reading to your child. Even after children learn to read by themselves, it is still helpful for you to read aloud together. By reading stories that are on your child’s interest level, but beyond their reading level, you can stretch young readers understanding and motivate them to improve their skills.
You may go through a time when your child favours one book in particular and wants to read it over and over again. A favourite story may really speak to your child’s interest or emotional needs. We know that children learn well with repetition, so it’s actually a great thing they want to read the same book repeatedly! Re-reading books helps children to learn more about what they are reading each time. Perhaps they finally understand something they didn’t before, or perhaps they may suddenly notice something funny in a particular illustration. Be patient and continue to expose your children to a wealth of books and eventually they will find new books to love.
You can make reading part of your daily routine, anytime is a good time to read! Reading doesn’t just have to only mean story books, look for opportunities to notice printed words when out and about. Incorporating reading into the bedtime routine can be a lovely time for connection with your child that you may not otherwise get in the busy day.
Cerie Jamieson, Occupational Therapist