Reading is one of the most important gifts that a parent can impact on their child. Reading to your child for as little as 20 minutes a day will hugely improve their chances of success in school and their understanding of human emotion and the world we live in. The most important stages in child development happen before the age of 5, and education during these early years is crucial to performance later on in life.
The advantages of reading are limitless. Reading improves social skills, academic performance, helps concentration, and so much more. One of the best things about reading, though, is that it’s fun! Nothing beats getting lost in tales of magical worlds and going on adventures alongside your favorite characters, right?
For children, reading opens up whole new worlds and has an immense impact on their development. Through books, children are introduced to different situations, environments, and characters allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. Poor literacy/numeracy skills can impede children’s development and be detrimental to their lives and future careers.
It’s impossible to quantify all the benefits of reading, as the things we learn from books and the skills we develop permeate every aspect of life. We’ve compiled a list of 5 benefits of reading that we think are extremely significant and are reasons you, as a parent, should start reading to your child as early on in life as possible!
Improving Chances of a Successful Financial Future
Fascinating research conducted by Lynn Fielding in The 90% Reading Goal found that reading to your child for just 20 minutes a day can hugely improve their chances of graduating high school and increase their lifetime earnings.
The research found that 77% of children reading at a second to eighth-grade level at the beginning of third grade will go on to graduate high school. Whereas only 27% of children reading below this level will graduate.
In the Book created infographics to help visualize this data, as you can see below.
Fielding goes on to say that there’s a direct correlation between literacy skills and lifetime earnings. She suggests that when “a mom or dad, sister or brother, who reads twenty minutes a day with a child from birth can first increase their chance of high 3rd-grade reading skills and then of high school graduation. When that chance increases by 2/3rds, the child’s probable increased lifetime earnings increase by $220,000.”
This research was conducted back in 1998. In 2018, with inflation taken into account, those who graduate high school will earn $500,000 more than those who drop out.
From this study we can determine that every year spent reading to your child before they turn 5, their average lifetime earnings will increase by $100,000! You can find more information about this study here.
Although improving your child’s chances of financial success or thinking about them graduating high school probably isn’t the main thing on your mind when when they’re still in diapers and you’re reading Winnie the Pooh for the 10th time, it’s a passive investment in their future, which they’ll thank you for later!
Giving Your Child an Academic Advantage
One of the most obvious benefits of reading is that we learn things. A lot of things.
Reading aloud to your child helps them to develop important language and listening skills, and prepares them to understand the written word when school time rolls around. It also improves their speech skills and increases their vocabulary.
Reading to your child before they start school helps them to develop a better ability to learn in different environments. Multiple studies have shown that encouraging and nurturing a child’s cognitive ability by reading to them before they start school results in a higher chance of achievement in formal education.
Developing Communication Skills and Confidence
Books introduce children to different environments, situations, and characters. Often, children’s books deal with topics like home life, school life, everyday experiences or the imaginary. Helping your child connect experiences learned from books to real life will provide them with a better understanding of the world, and allow them to communicate and interact with their surroundings.
Through reading, children are able to learn about the world around them, develop empathy and therefore better understand emotions. When a character is scared by the big bad wolf or the scary witch, the reader feels this fear too.
Often children’s books feature different cultures and countries, which gives your child valuable insight into the different ways people live, thus preparing them to go out into the world with the ability to communicate effectively with different people.
Lastly, when children have already been exposed to reading before they begin school, their reading ability improves and their confidence grows. They’ll feel more comfortable reading out loud to their peers and teachers.
Enhancing Concentration and Self Discipline
Remember being so full of energy as a child you just couldn’t sit still? You had so much energy you were almost bouncing off the walls, driving your parents crazy? Those were the days!
Often, children find it difficult to concentrate their attention on one activity for extended periods of time, as their little imaginations run wild.
Sitting down with your child to read every night can provide a valuable routine that will encourage discipline and focus. Developing longer attention spans and better memory skills will be beneficial to their performance at school and later on in life.
Reading 20 minutes before bed provides a routine for your child, and encourages healthy sleeping patterns, which is hugely important for brain development.
An Invaluable Bonding Experience
One of the best things about reading to your child is that it’s a bonding experience.
Setting aside time together every night to read will become something your child will look forward to, where you can explore magical worlds and embark on imaginary adventures together.
Nowadays parents often find it difficult to spend the amount of quality time with their children that they would like to in an ideal world. Work commitments and a busy lifestyle often get in the way of this, which is why cuddling up with your little one at the end of the day to read can provide that quality time you might be missing.
In today’s world, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of reading with the ubiquitous use of technology. Kids are often blindsided by the excitement of TV, video games, smartphones, and apps. But there’s nothing like the excitement of wondering what’s going to happen on the next page of a great book. Technology can help children learn, but it doesn’t bring the same benefits of reading.
Reading improves so many aspects of your child’s life. Spending as little as 20 minutes a day reading to your child, exposing them to language, can have a huge impact on their future academic performance and successes. It improves communication skills, creativity and imagination, and confidence. It creates a bond between parent and child that your child will remember for the rest of their lives.
During the first 5 years of their life, your child is in a stage of critical development. However, the benefits of reading extend beyond the realm of academic and financial success. Reading is a pleasure. It brings happiness and fun, and is one of the most invaluable gifts you can pass on to your child.
Sara works for In the Book, a children’s book publisher. They’re passionate about educating people on the importance of reading. Their motto "adventure on every page" reflects their innovative publishing venture into personalized books, where your child can become a part of their favorite stories.