I remember once upon a time, in what seems like a lifetime ago, my mother and I would snuggle up in bed for about half an hour of reading, sometimes more, each night. Sometimes she would read to me, other times I would read to her. Some of my favourites were Madeleine, by Ludwig Bemelmans, Noddy, by Enid Blyton, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, by Pam Adams, Tiddalick: The Frog Who Caused A Flood, by Robert Roennfeldt, and Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. At the time, I thought it was just a bit of fun each night. I loved reading those books. I loved reading with my mum every night.
At the time, I had no idea that reading with my mother every night was helping to shape me into the person I am today, and the person I will be in the future.
Reading aloud to our children, before preschool and during the early years of primary school, is so important. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits this can have on the child’s cognitive development.
- Reading aloud to children helps them develop critical language and pronunciation skills.
- Reading aloud to children for 15 minutes each night exposes them to a million words a year, developing their vocabulary and understanding of words they may not come by in day-to-day conversation.
- Reading aloud to children and promoting reading from an early age develops their ability to think critically, and increases their general knowledge, better preparing them for formal education.
- Reading aloud to children, and allowing the child to read with you, builds stronger communication skills, helping them to relate better to the people around them.
- Children who are read to and who read regularly generally have longer attention spans than those who watch television regularly.
The same studies have shown that children who are read to before primary school generally have a heads up on their education than those who are not read to. As well as all of this, reading to your child helps foster a stronger relationship with them. It facilitates conversation between parent and child around shared values and ideas.
The list goes on and on.
Books are powerful things. Reading books allows us to share in that power. Reading was always something I enjoyed when I was younger, and it is something I now enjoy again. As a child, reading time for me was family time, snuggle time, a time to spend time with my mummy. It was a time I looked forward to every night, I time when I could talk to my mother about things. It definitely strengthened our bond. I enjoyed Book Group in primary school. I developed an aptitude for spelling and writing and reading comprehension, and I put it all down to the fact that my mother fostered a love of reading in me from an early age, and spent hours upon hours of her own life reading to me when she could’ve been doing other things. I will definitely follow in her footsteps when I have children of my own.
Cover image credit: Chris_Parfitt https://flic.kr/p/pEzJTA