The many benefits of reading aloud to children
(This post was originally published on www.gilbertcreations.com and has been re-posted here, with changes)
Parents, caretakers and educators have long known that reading aloud to children increases bonding, encourages brain growth, strengthens vocabulary and a helps foster a curiosity for the world around them. We all know that reading to our kids is important – here are just a few reasons why:
Dominic Massaro, a professor emeritus in psychology at the University of California recently conducted research that shows reading to kids, even more so than talking, increases their vocabulary. While talking to your kids is a great tool for building language and love, reading to them exposes them to a greater variety of words , ones often found outside the normal 5,000 common English words.
Increases Attention Span
While watching TV may be a time honored ‘relaxation’ technique in many American households, those hours add up. In 2009, Nielsen reported that American children aged 2-5 watch an average of 32 hours of television a week. This number climbs even higher when you delve deeper into the report and adjust for screen time gleaned from Internet Videos… like the YouTube clips kids seem so fond of watching these days – you know the ones, unwrapping, surprise eggs, watching OTHER kids (or adults) play with toys, etc. The onslaught is continuous, and even with due diligence, our kids are suffering under the screen pressure, and those flashing lights and constant change of scenes actually decrease attention spans. Reading, on the other hand, increases attention spans. Some guidelines correlate the age of the child with an average attention span of 1 minute for every year. So a 5 year old should be able to hold to task for 5 minutes, an 8 year old for 8 minutes, and so on. Often, these minutes will increase when the activity is interesting, or when a child has learned patience through listening to a parent or caretaker read to them. Stories are wonderful attention ‘getters’, and attention ‘expanders’.
The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research looked at the long term impact of reading aloud to children, producing a report in March, 2013. Their question was simple, does parental (or caretaker) reading to children affect the child’s reading ability and prowess between the ages of 10-11? The answer? Yes. Across the board, with little variance, parental reading increased a child’s reading ability and comprehension as the years passed.
As mentioned above, reading aloud to children helps foster and create loving bonds, bonds that can very well last a lifetime with encouragement. It is just one of the many things parents and caregivers can do to increase closeness – and who doesn’t want that?