It’s no secret that reading is critical for cognitive development, but a lot of parents don’t realize that it’s never too early to read to their children. According to Parents, even infants can benefit from story hour because it means they get to bond one-on-one with mom or dad. Here are five more benefits of reading to your children:
1. Improves Mathematical Skills
It’s probably not surprising that children who read a lot (or who have parents read to them) have a much larger vocabulary than those who don’t. What most people don’t realize, though, is that reading boosts overall brain power, and not just functions related to reading and comprehension. Following along to stories–and discussing them afterward if you have the time–can improve problem-solving skills and analytical reasoning. That means children who spend a lot of time around books also tend to be better at the more technical subjects, too, like math and science.
2. Boosts Emotional Maturity
Children’s books may not be feats of literary genius, but most of them rely on the same basic storytelling techniques. And when they’re successful, readers see the world from the narrator’s perspective. This is a form of empathy, and children who have empathy tend to be more emotionally mature than those who don’t.
3. Increases Their Chances of Being Successful Later in Life
Countless studies have indicated that children who get a quality early education are far more likely to graduate from college and succeed later in life. Though reading is just one component of that, it’s a large part, and it’s never too early to start reading to children. According to PBSNewsHour, a child is less likely to graduate from high school if his or her reading proficiency remains poor by the end of the third grade.
4. Improves Attention Span
Getting your child to sit down and listen to you read may seem like a challenge, but with time, reading can actually lengthen his or her attention span. If your child struggles to concentrate, start small, and let him or her choose the books you’re going to read together. When children take an active part in choosing what they read, they’re far more likely to stay engaged and take something positive away from the experience.
5. Boosts Their Confidence
Older children often gain confidence when they read along with their parents, but if your child is too young to read, he or she can still gain confidence during story hour. Children thrive on predictability and routine, so if you make it a habit to read with your family every evening, chances are your kids will notice and feel more safe, secure and confident about their place in the world.
Reading to your children might take a little planning, but it will be worth it once you settle into a routine. Start by taking the whole family to your local library, and let each of your kids select a book that interests them. You may even find that picking out books and spending a few hours together one afternoon is just as much fun as reading together in the evenings.