7 incredible benefits of reading with your kids

7 incredible benefits of reading with your kids

In For the Love of Reading by Julia Malacoff

7 incredible benefits of reading with your kids
Kids and books just seem to go together. But you might not know exactly why that is. Well, there are a ton of social, emotional, and intellectual benefits to cracking open a book (or ebook!) with your little one. Ahead, we dig into some of the most compelling perks of reading with children. Find out why books are so much more than just a step in your kid’s bedtime routine.

1. Reading out loud helps babies begin to learn words

It might not seem worth reading to a newborn or young baby, but little ones start picking up on language cues way earlier than you’d expect — especially if you read to them often. Research shows babies’ brains start preparing language skills far before they begin to talk, and they may even understand phrases and simple sentences as early as a year old.

Reading to your baby consistently (one study suggests daily is best) helps them become familiar with new words and ideas, even if they’re not babbling just yet. Also, you don’t have to stick to children’s books at this point. When they’re this little, you can read babies anything (yep, even your favorite novel), according to the Child Mind Institute, and still reap the benefits.

2. Reading is a habit that builds over time

You probably know this from your own reading habits, but the urge to reach for a book (or the device you read on) is like a muscle; the more you flex it, the stronger it gets. This holds true for little ones too. Reading to your baby when they’re less than four months old may increase the chance that you’ll continue doing so as they get older. Research done by Scholastic showed that developing regular reading habits with children — like picking a cozy reading spot and reading together at a certain time of day — can help turn them into frequent readers (aka kids who read five or more days a week for fun).

3. Books help kids expand their vocabularies

You might not talk about giraffes, zebras, and lions all that much in your everyday life, but you surely can find a book that talks about those animals in detail. The experts at the National Center on Early Childhood Development and Teaching point out that children’s books often use words that might not pop up in casual conversation, but are nonetheless crucial to learn. 

4. It can help boost their listening skills

Learning to listen and absorb new information is one of the foundations of literacy, and a key skill for little ones on their journey to learning to read. Turns out, letting your child listen to you read out loud is one of the best ways to help develop these listening skills. So much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to aloud children from birth. As kids get older, audiobooks can also be a useful tool in developing and honing listening skills.

5. Stories teach kids empathy

Book-smarts are one thing, but emotional intelligence is also super important. Books can teach kids about the world around them, but they can also show them what others’ lives are like in other life circumstances and parts of the world. Stories about feelings can also help kids familiarize themselves with different emotions and how to handle them, so that when they pop up in real life, they’re prepared.

6. Reading together strengthens your bond

Research suggests that reading out loud to your child creates a shared experience between you that makes your relationship even stronger. So snuggle up, pick out a story, and spend some quality time together.

7. They love it

Perhaps most importantly, children overwhelmingly love it when someone reads to them. How do we know? A survey done by the National Literacy Trust in the U.K. found that 95.6% of the children said they enjoyed having stories read to them. They loved getting to know new characters and getting involved and invested in storylines — just like many adults.


About the Author: Julia Malacoff

Julia is a freelance writer and editor who holds a BA in Art History from Wellesley College, and is also a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. Her work experience includes writing, reporting, and editing for top publications, including Shape, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, as well as leading brands like Nike, Aveeno, and Precision Nutrition. She lives in London with her husband and two cocker spaniels. An avid reader, you can find her devouring her book club's latest pick — or anything by Zadie Smith, Blake Crouch, and Jeffrey Eugenides.