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It’s Good Housekeeping’s 17th anniversary, and mommies, it’s your month, too! Enjoy meaty reads on everything relevant to you—from deliciously simple cake recipes to stories of compassion during Pope Francis’s visit.
Remember that scene from The Blind Side where Sandra Bullock’s character, Leigh Anne, reads the story of Ferdinand the Bull to Michael and young SJ while older sister Collins listens from the next room? Didn’t it give you that sweet feeling of family togetherness? Perhaps it made you want to read more books to your own kids—and you should!
Before they can even construct complete sentences or know the ins and outs of punctuation and pronunciation by heart, kids can have an affinity for books. Creating personal mini-libraries for your tots at an early age can kick-start many positive attitudes and habits that can help them as they grow into young ones fully equipped to face the challenges of school and the real world.
Check out these five benefits you get from reading to your kids from an early age:
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE
Whether you’re reading out loud to your child or helping him form words letter by letter, exposing kids to books gives them a more advanced and firmer grasp of the language. Not only are spelling skills developed, but children become more adept at pronouncing new words, no matter which language you read to them in. Even picture books help build vocabulary, as children begin associating images with names and the things they represent. Having a good grip of language translates into good communication skills, which can help your child as he heads into school.
SHAPING A VIVID IMAGINATION
Books can open kids’ eyes in ways that TV or video games cannot. Whether you’re presenting them fun facts and trivia in colorful almanacs and record books, or exposing them to far off fairytale lands or mysterious adventures, books can stimulate them, allowing them to create pictures in their minds like no other media can. Stories can help them investigate what they would do in circumstances that real life may not be able to offer, introduce them to a wide array of places and cultures, and teach them about all sorts of people.
The quiet time spent between parent and child, just flipping through the pages of a storybook, is always time well spent. For parents, reading is a great way to unwind at the end of a busy day; and for kids, it’s a wonderful send off before they fall asleep. Whatever age your child is, he will always be able to look back on story time as your own private bonding moment!
BUILDING A BETTER ATTENTION SPAN
With the frantic pace of TV shows, movies and video games, it’s easy to understand why kids these days aren’t able to sit still too long. Setting aside some time for books and reading can help them develop concentration and focus—traits that will help them in school, and will help keep them well-behaved at home, too.
Children who love to read typically achieve academic success more easily, as books can help build aptitude in far-reaching areas. A simple story can open your kids’ eyes to science, social studies, and history. A love for reading sharpens communication skills and a love for language as well—aspects that can help kids socialize in groups and develop a keen interest in the arts as well. Children’s books can also help kids establish reading as a lifelong habit—something that can take them places as they grow into adults.
When you read to your kids, you should make it as fun as possible in order to tickle their interest and imagination. You can try changing up your voice with every character or stopping now and again to ask your child what he or she thinks will happen next. You should also never assume that your child is “too old” to be read to, even if he or she already knows how to read since this may be a very enjoyable experience for them, and taking it away may not be a very good reward for their learning this essential skill. You can also engage older kids’ help with reading to younger ones. The most important thing is to make sure they have fun so they’ll learn faster and develop a stronger bond with you.
(Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment)