Do you read to your kids?

In homes all over the world, and maybe in yours, too, a nightly ritual takes place. Parents read stories to their kids before putting them to bed. But something happens as our kids get a little older and start reading on their own.

We stop reading to them. Only 17% of parents still read to their children after age 9.

Is it because our kids don’t need or want us to read to them anymore? Not according to a study by Scholastic. It found that 87% of children age 6 through 11 said they liked being read to and wished their parents would continue reading to them. That’s great news for parents and great for kids, too. Time spent reading together strengthens our bonds. But that’s not all. There are amazing benefits for your child when you keep reading to him even after he learns to read.

After reading this, you’ll want to jump right back into this routine if you’ve started to let it slide. Here are the gains you can realize by spending about 15 minutes daily reading to your kids:

  1. Develop Empathy
    We all want our children to be empathetic — to grow up knowing how to be a good friend, to show compassion, and to bring kindness into the world. Can reading to your child do that? Yes, it can! Or at least it can help. Studies show that reading fiction improves readers’ ability to understand and empathize with others. This is because fiction focuses on the psychology of characters and their relationships.
    When reading fiction, children are able to see into the minds of the characters, and they understand that other people can have thoughts and emotions different from theirs. The talks you have with your child surrounding the story helps your child connect the book’s perspective to his own life.
  2. Deal with Difficult Issues
    Sometimes, talking to our kids can be difficult. We feel that we are being preachy (which we probably are). In the “Tween” years, children want and need our guidance but don’t always want to ask for it. Reading aloud can act as a bridge to conversations with your child about difficult issues. Name any sticky subject — fitting in, staying true to self, peer pressure, drinking, divorce, bullying, death. There are books for any of those topics and more. Talking about the problems a character in a book is having can make discussions more objective and easier for kids. After reading a section of a book, asking questions such as, “Do you think [character] was being sincere?” or “What would have been a better choice for [character]?” can start a productive conversation. When you talk about a book or character together, it’s not lecturing. It’s having a conversation.
  3. Create Strong Family Relationships
    Routines and rituals are the heart and soul of family life. They are truly the moments that trigger our memories. Many rituals surround holidays and food (especially if you grew up in an Italian family like I did), but storytime can also elicit the same strong feelings of family and belonging. A review of 50 years of research found that family rituals and routines are associated with children’s and adolescents’ sense of identity, overall health, and academic achievement. Children in families with predictable routines are more confident, have fewer infections, and do better in school. Routines and rituals are powerful because they create “emotional imprints” in our brains. It’s those imprints that act as insulation against the stresses of life that our kids experience.
  4. Improve Vocabulary and Background Knowledge
    There are numerous studies that confirm the link between vocabulary knowledge and academic success. You might be surprised to know that vocabulary is the best single indicator of intellectual ability and an accurate predictor of success in school.
    What’s the best way to increase your child’s vocabulary? You already know what I’m going to say, don’t you? Of course, it’s reading! 85% of the words that kids learn are learned indirectly. That means they are learned by hearing, reading, and interacting with new words, not directly taught. The language our kids see and hear on social media, in daily conversations, on television, and in movies doesn’t do much to improve their vocabulary.

    Books, on the other hand, use language that is rich, with complicated sentences and sophisticated vocabulary. Your child is able to listen to and understand many more words than he can actually read on his own. As a matter of fact, children’s reading vocabulary doesn’t catch up to their listening vocabulary until about Age 13.
    So by reading aloud to your older child, you can choose books written at a reading level one or two years above his current reading level (that is still within his interest and maturity level).

  5. Increase Attention Span
    We live in the age of distraction. We are bombarded with digital information in an unending stream of emails, social media, blogs, reports, news, youtube videos, and marketing ads. The average attention span has decreased over 50% from a decade ago from twelve minutes to less than five minutes!

    Magic Solution: Read aloud to your child, and have discussions about the stories.
    When you read aloud to your child, her attention is sustained as she follows complicated plots, visualizes characters, and thinks deeply about the messages and connections in the story. You can gradually increase the length of read-aloud time as your child’s attention span improves.

  6. Promote Reading as Pleasure
    A study by Scholastic revealed that only 51% of children read for fun, down from 60% in 2010. The sharpest decline in reading for pleasure was for children over eight years old. Hmmm… is that about the age that a lot of parents stop reading to their kids? The Scholastic report found that a six to eleven-year-old child is more likely to be a frequent reader if he is currently read aloud to at home. Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve read to your child, and you aren’t familiar with books for older kids. Need some help finding the perfect book? Goodreads.com is a great site. You’ll find synopses of books as well as reviews by the young people reading them. You can easily find books to match your child’s interests and favorite genres.

So get your kid over to the library and make it a regular habit!

Check out my related post: What makes an app great for kids?


Interesting reads:

https://blog.kingscollege.qld.edu.au/when-do-i-stop-reading-to-my-child

https://ph.theasianparent.com/reading-aloud-to-your-child

https://readingisbetterthanchocolate.com/never-stop-reading-aloud/

https://medium.com/@judysantillipackhem/when-should-you-stop-reading-to-your-kids-never-and-heres-why-db4279807ece

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dont-stop-reading-to-your_b_467155

 

View at Medium.com

7 thoughts on “Do you read to your kids?

  1. Rex here! I love this post! I read yo my children until they were seven or eight. Now I read to my grandchildren. However, they prefer my made up series where they are the central characters. Finding criminals or helping people etc. The deputy head at the primary school has a secret…really he’s a spy…. their parents are in on it too! Etc…sometimes when I’m visiting for a week or two the stories go on and on…
    I used to make up “choice” stories which had good or exciting options…one a moral choice and the other not such a good option…that led to different consequences! It would and still does promote very interesting discussions!
    Books are just wonderful and all my children and grandchildren read..girls more than boys though!
    Thanks for the post. You’re so encouraging!
    Rex

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh great! So creative! I bet it keeps them guessing as they go along! I did choice stories but it didn’t work that well I guess. Sometimes you just want to follow the story teller!

      Like

  2. I am guilty as charged, my oldest is now able to read on his own, so I typically only read to my youngest while he reads on his own. Sometimes he joins us…that is going to change, book time for all from here on out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words! Trying my best to keep the blog going. Tips? I did a post earlier on how to start one. But the tricky part if to keep it going. It’s going to be three years for me with over a thousand posts. Some days, the butterflies are still there when I write a post so that’s good I guess. Welcome to the blogsphere!

      Liked by 1 person

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