“I’m so tired,” was all I could think as my then 5-year-old son pulled a book down from the shelf and rested it on his lap. The request was implied, not spoken — he wanted to be read to. I love him to death, but it was the last thing in the world my body wanted to do. Every fiber of my being wanted to say “not tonight”…but then, something magical happened. He opened the book and started reading it. Maybe he was just reciting it because we had read it so much, but the phrases were flowing out of him. Did all of those other tired nights where I forced myself to read actually pay off? Yep, it appeared so. My child was literate — or, at least a really good memorizer. Either way, it was pretty cool.
Study after study show the benefits of reading aloud to children, and those benefits aren’t merely academic. Emotional, behavioral, relational advantages are all abundantly evident. But the next time you’re drop-dead tired and don’t want to read Goodnight, Moon one more time, keep these 5 reasons in mind for why you may want to rally:1. So THAT’S a Book
Well before going to school, children who are read to understand what books are all about. They know to start at the beginning, turn the pages, go to the end…and they get that there is a connection between the spoken word and the written word. They also start recognizing the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make.2. The Academic Stuff
Reading Is Fundamental points out that because books introduce kids to different words than they otherwise would hear, their vocabulary grows, all while helping them understand the world around them and their place in it. Furthermore, reading aloud helps the development of skills such as spelling, grammar and writing, while helping them to become more critical thinkers.
3. I’m OK, You’re OK
Reading aloud to children aids with conversation skills and helps grow their empathy, which in turn can better their social relationships. Reading also builds confidence, as a new skill is mastered and helps them in their desire to try new things. But even more than this, reading books with empowering messages that encourage kids’ individuality, value and worth can reap huge rewards, setting up children to think positively about themselves and believe in themselves. Talk about a self-esteem boost.
4. Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Reading aloud to children not only helps them learn about new things and the world around them, but it also helps grow their imaginations. Not only are there illustrations on the page for kids to see, but hearing words read aloud translates words into pictures in their mind’s eye, boosting their creativity.
5. Bonding Time
This might just be the greatest reason of all. Whether you’re picking out a book at the library or snuggled under the covers turning the pages, reading books with your child is the kind of precious quality time you just can’t buy. And hearing stories? Well, that’s just fun.
So the next time that magic hour hits — you know, when you’re ready to sleep and they’re ready to, well, not — remember the reasons to break out a book. Those years where they actually WANT you to read to them won’t be around forever, but the memories you make will endure…for both of you.