Is reading to your child when they are young worthwhile? Does it help your child achieve greater academic success later in life?
Taking time to read to your kid, 10-15 minutes or longer depending on the age of the child
- builds the bond between you and your child
- stimulates their imagination
- builds a love of books
- provides a quiet time for your child to transition to sleep
I would read the Chronicles of Narnia to my daughter when she was very young. Her eyes would slowly close as she drifted off to sleep as I read to her. It was a happy and peaceful time that became a habit very quickly.
Whether reading to your child at an early stage provides a head start on reading and academics is debatable and probably irrelevant. Let your child develop in their own unique way and build on their strengths as they develop rather than force them. This will go a long way to helping them find their personal success and happiness. Having plenty of age appropriate books easily accessible to your child at all times allows them to explore reading when they want in a low pressure way.
PostersAn alternative to a book that can work well is to have a poster or two of a story with pictures and small amounts of text. With my daughter, reading from these every night became a ritual and provided structure, security and transition to sleep. She could also see the pictures on the wall beside her bed and think about the story which comforted her once I had left the room.
Reading and your older child
Ask what the book is about and having the patience to listen to the answer because kids tend not to be able to summarize the stories very well. You will find then that they will want to get the book and find a favorite passage and want to read it to you. Remember you must be prepared for the time this takes.
If you are short on time and you cut them off, that will frustrate them and they will have a harder time approaching you again. If you must cut it short, make a polite exit and set up a firm time that you will listen to them. Make sure you follow through.
Kids are very idealistic when it comes to promises. Keeping promises means a lot to them. Not keeping them can really test the trust they have in you. As they get older, go to your local bookshop with them. Allow them to roam and browse through the shelves. They will treasure the independence and discover new kinds of books. Keeping a diary can be fun and educational for a kid. Get one with a lock on it if your child is nervous about others seeing what they write.