As a parent, discover how reading can benefit your child to ensure they DO their very best at any age.
Reading helps children develop their language through hearing and practicing different sounds and words, as well as encouraging their communication skills to grow.
It builds a firm foundation for literacy skills and promotes a curious mind and imagination. Nurturing a love of reading in your child early sets them up for success both at school and later in life.
Benefits for children at different ages
The act of sharing stories and reading has multiple benefits for children of all ages. We know each child is different. But reading has distinct benefits for each age group.
How reading can benefit babies & young children
Children’s development starts early. Help your baby to form social skills early on. Talking (or signing) and sharing stories daily will jump-start your child’s reading journey and provide a firm foundation for development. Knowing how reading can benefit your child is the first step.
What are the benefits of reading for babies and young children?
Reading and sharing stories with babies can:
- Develop early literacy skills – such as understanding words, sounds and language development
- Stimulate their curiosity and promote imagination
- Help your babies’ brain to form social skills early
- Develop communication skills
- Teach your child to learn to value books and reading from an early age
- Aid your child to learn the difference between what is ‘make-believe’ and what is ‘real’
- Provide emotional support – reading can help your child understand and react to change. This includes new or frightening events.
It’s more than reading
It’s not just about reading. Your little one will learn just by watching you.
As a parent, you set the parameters of what is normal for your child. It’s these behaviours that your child will eventually replicate on their own.
By observing your behaviour, they learn skills such as the correct way to hold a book or how to turn pages gently.
Even simply looking at books with your children, provides them with non-verbal language to begin their reading journey.
Sharing stories and reading to your child also creates precious time to nurture your bond.
Planting the seeds for success early
Through reading, you’re familiarising your child with sounds, words, language, printed words and images.
You’re also stimulating their brain by teaching them to hone their imagination skills and to ask questions. Not just questions about the stories you’re reading, but questions about the wider world too. This another example of how reading can benefit your child.
These little things all add up over time and can lead to success later in life.
How reading can benefit your toddler
Reading with your toddler is all about having fun. It’s a special time spent together and is the perfect age to promote a love of books.
Here are some tips to keep reading fun for toddlers:
- Let them choose the book the next time you visit the library or bookshop – you might discover they have a favourite author or illustrator
- Ask them to hold the books or to turn the pages (carefully!)
- Question them: what do they see in picture book images?
- If they have a favourite story, ask your toddler to fill in the words
- You could also pause, giving them the chance to finish sentences
- Try out silly voices and sounds – have fun
- Don’t be put off if they want to read the same book – repetition is great at developing literacy skills
- Sing together, whether nursery rhymes and songs, singing can help them to form words
- Ask them what sounds animals make
- Talk with your toddler often, even basic conversation will aid their long-term development
How reading can benefit pre-schoolers (age 2-4)
By now, your child is familiar with basic language. They understand sounds and words. Hopefully, if you’ve encouraged a love of reading early, this is when they really start to enjoy books.
Your child’s imagination has also likely sky-rocketed. Chances are, they’re beginning to understand and enjoy language. This time is crucial in their development.
Be patient as they get to grips with their emotions, start to socialise and learn how to listen and communicate.
Here are some tips to keep reading fun for pre-schoolers:
Before you start reading
- Ask your child some questions about the book
- Who is the author, have they read one of their books before?
- Who is the illustrator? Does your child like their pictures?
- Ask them what they think the story might be about
- Who might be in this story?
- What do they think will happen?
- Ask your child some questions such as; “Who is this?”, “What are they holding?” or “Why are they happy?”
- Change your voice and expression as you read
- Let your child turn the pages
- As you read, urge your child to use their finger to trace out the words
- Sound out the words as you read them
- Repeat fun words, onomatopoeic sounds or sentences together
Introducing letters, words and grammar
- Point out lower-case and capital letters – drawing attention to grammatical rules early will help them when they start at school
- Challenge your child to look for individual letters, or the letters in their name – this will develop their literacy skills
- Show your child punctuation marks, exclamation points, question marks and full stops
- Explain why we use each of the above. You don’t have to go into detail. For example, “This is a question mark. It means that somebody is asking a question”
- If any words are in bold or capitalised, explain why this might be. For example, “Wow, this word is bigger than the others, the lion must be roaring loudly!”
How reading can benefit school age children (6-8 years old)
This is the time when your child’s memory is improving rapidly. It’s also a time when your child will likely have many questions for you.
You may notice that your child gets distracted easily or forgets to do what you asked them to. They’re processing a lot, so don’t take it personally.
This is also a time of experimentation. They will test the moral boundaries that you have set or do things just to see what happens.
Around this time in their development, the more behaviours you set, the better prepared they will be to cope with this change.
Reading is a great tool to focus their mind and help them to express this period of change
Here are some tips:
- Encourage children to experiment and learn about the world through science books. Many kids’ science books include easy to follow experiments you can do at home together
- Remain positive about their reading achievements and build their self-esteem. As your child encounters other children, they may start to compare themselves to others and become self-critical
- Read with them. Reading is still very important for their literacy development.
- Encourage your child to read to you.
- Let them play and explore. Then ask them to tell you a story about what they did. Or ask them to create a comic or make their own book
- Try new things around them and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. This will teach your child not to give up and that learning is about making mistakes
- Share your ideas with them and don’t be afraid to speak with them about important issues
- Ensure your child knows that there are always consequences to their behaviour. Books can help as they encourage viewing things from other people’s perspectives
How reading can benefit teenagers
Teenagers who read tend to be more successful at school than their non-reading counterparts. This is especially true when a teen reads above and beyond the books they are assigned by their teachers.
This is because the more books they read, the more they are exposed to new vocabulary. It can also lead to better writing skills. By taking in the work of lots of different writers, they begin to form their own unique writing style.
Reading generates transferable skills
Books aimed at teenagers can also expose them to different thoughts and ideas. By absorbing these books, they will improve their ability to handle complex information and ideas.
This is a skill that can then be applied to all their subjects, not just English.
Reading also builds vocabulary and comprehension skills, which are often needed to do well in exams.
Books can help to beat exam stress
For teens, reading can be a fantastic way to unwind or de-stress. They provide a way for your teen to tune out to whatever they might be going through, hormonal or otherwise.
Not to mention, many of the stories they read will have characters overcoming various odds. This may show your teenager how to find solutions to their own problems. Reading is a tool to help teach them about the world, it can broaden their horizons too.
Sleep is important for growing teens. Encourage your teenager to schedule some reading time before bed. A little time dedicated to reading can help them to sleep better too, even if it’s just a chapter or a page a night.
How to encourage a teenage reader
It can be hard to encourage your child to read at this age. After all, gentle encouragement can be interpreted as patronising by a hormonal teenager.
One way to get around this is to express an interest in the books they read. Try to combine what they’re reading with activities.
For example, they might be into a series of books about animals. If this is the case, take them to the zoo.
Alternatively, check if a book they’re reading has been adapted into a film. If it has, take them to see it or buy them the DVD or Blu-ray for their birthday.
Overall, reading has a powerful influence on your child’s life at every age and stage. By now, you know how reading can benefit your child.
Reading to your children daily when they are young, has a hugely positive effect on their reading and cognitive skills.
Those who are read to regularly, aged 4 to 5, are more likely to achieve success later on. This equates to higher scores on the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) in year 3 (age 8 to 9).
Children who read books at age 10 often gain higher results in secondary school than those that don’t.
Moreover, teenagers that read for pleasure are more likely to secure managerial or professional roles later in life.
At Readingmate we help to ensure your child – no matter their age – can benefit from the powerful impact of reading.
Join the Readingmate community and kickstart your child’s reading journey today!