5 Hidden Benefits Of Reading For Kids (And Their Parents!)

Huffpost Living Canada
July 27, 2016

Publication Date: 
July 27, 2016

The time you spend cuddling with your kids, watching them become engrossed in a story told to them from your own lips, is a priceless experience. On top of the sentimental value, more and more studies are proving how beneficial reading with a parent is for developing children. Here are just a few examples:

Building Bonds

While reading is a necessity for learning, it is also one of the best ways to develop bonds with your children, researchers say. Scholastic calls reading "a gift for time-challenged parents who may feel guilty about missing special moments with their kids." The book publisher suggests parents schedule reading sessions often and use the moments to enrich their relationships with their children, as well as build their vocabularies. Parents will forever cling to such innocent moments. Kids, meanwhile, are learning about complex aspects of life and relationships when they are engaged in stories with themes that can be more mature than anything they've encountered in life. Going through those educational moments with a parent allows them to confront these issues in a safe space.

Secret to Success

In March 2013, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research introduced research that showed that children four to five years of age who are read to three to five times a week are six months ahead of their peers in terms of reading acumen. Those children who are read to daily are a year ahead of those who are read to less frequently. ''It does appear to be the case that children who are read to more often keep doing better as they age than other children,'' Guyonne Kalb of the Melbourne Institute told The Age newspaper when the study he co-authored was released.

Rich Vocabulary Equals Advantage

Educator Jim Trelease notes that there is a clear difference between conversing with a child and reading to him or her. As he points out in his book "Read-Aloud Handbook," speech is full of jargon, colloquialisms and truncated sentences. Literature, on the other hand, is much more intricate and therefore vastly more educational. "The language in books is very rich, and in books there are complete sentences. In books, newspapers, and magazines, the language is more complicated, more sophisticated. A child who hears more sophisticated words has a giant advantage over a child who hasn't heard those words," Trelease says.

Teaching by Example

"A child who has been read to will want to learn to read herself. She will want to do what she sees her parents doing. But if a child never sees anyone pick up a book, she isn't going to have that desire," Trelease points out in a conversation with GreatSchools.org. Reading increases a child's attention span and a parent's own cognitive ability, the best-selling author says. It is one of the most essential and valuable activities kids can inherit from parents simply by observing them being engrossed in a book or magazine. Knowing how many habits children pick up from grown-ups around them, reading is one activity parents should aim to get caught doing in front of their kids.

Boosting Self Esteem and Communications Skills

Early readers will be armed with the vocabulary necessary to communicate to their peers, teachers, and parents. Education provider Gemm Learning says children who have the ability to find the words they want to use are more likely to have a strong self-image, sense of confidence, and higher academic standing. Also, well-read kids are more likely to attempt to formulate their thoughts before becoming angry or demonstrative. "With more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self-esteem. So it’s a chain reaction. Since you are so well-read, people look to you for answers. Your feelings about yourself can only get better," Gemm Learning says.