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Thursday 26 September 2019

Guest Post: Sarah Rasmussen on Five Reasons Why Reading to Children is Super Important

We all know that reading to children is important and that we should do it. But do you ever wonder why it’s so important? Other than the fact that it will improve literacy?

See below to see some reasons and get motivated to start reading!

1. Reading teaches empathy in children.
One of the most important skills that young children need to develop is understanding empathy – it is vital to growth and emotional intelligence. Your child will learn empathy as they read about characters and how they deal with different situations that they might not see in everyday life. I know I have learnt plenty of important life lessons from literature and by falling in love with characters.

Such as Harry Potter. Ahem.

Empathy developed from reading is discussed in an interesting article from 2015 posted in The Guardian, which stated that 'the power of stories helps children handle their own and other people’s feeling.' It’s pretty insightful and highlights how important reading is in establishing empathy in children, as well as looking at how this is backed up by neuroscience. And that’s some legit stuff right there.

Sarah Rasmussen - 'every child can be a book lover'
2. It can help build relationships between yourself and other siblings
When reading, you are often in close contact with your child and get to laugh and learn together. And generally speaking, children enjoy being read to by parents and older siblings. This will encourage and strengthen relationships all around!

Even a recent study in 2019 published in The Journal of Developmental & Behavioural Paediatrics showed that reading with toddlers enhanced children's behaviour and reduced harsh parenting. You can read more about the study in this article here.

3. Reading will reduce the amount of time they spend in front of a screen
We all know screen time is a thing that should be limited, although it’s pretty hard in this day and age where screens are everywhere.

We all have days where we have had enough and need to sit back, drink our coffee and say ‘Here *insert child’s name*, have my phone and shut your pie-hole‘, before going and banging our heads against a door.

But ultimately, we know screen time should be limited, and the more time you spend reading to your child means less time in front of screens. That is proven in this 2017 study, which showed that ‘television consumption was significantly lower for children who were read to daily as compared to those who were read to occasionally’.

4. It can grow children’s confidence in literacy and school
This one is pretty obvious, but alas, it must be said. Kids who are more confident readers will be able to go through school feeling pretty confident too. And not having to worry about school will allow them to concentrate on other kid stuff like making friends and playtime.

There is a great initiative at Victorian libraries at the moment called the 1,000 books before school challenge. It encourages parents to try and read to their child 1,000 books (re-reading counts too!) before they begin school and it will set them up with a great foundation for learning. It seems like a huge number, but when broken down, it is not so bad. A book before bedtime every night should do the trick.

You can register for the 1,000 books before school challenge at your local library. The one you should be going to all the time after reading my post Eight Reasons YOU Should Visit Your Local Library.

5. Reading will encourage creativity
Learning and building creativity is a huge part of childhood – stories and picture books are one way to do this. A wide range of stories will encourage your kids imagination and keep them dreaming.

In fact, reading picture books to young children has even been proven to drastically improve drawing skills in a recent study published in the Journal of Empirical Studies of the Art. Pretty amazing stuff, hey!

So with all that, you don't really have any excuses to not be reading to your little ones. Get on it!

Sarah Rasmussen is a passionate reader and writer of children’s fiction. She lives in a small country town in South Gippsland, Victoria, Australia – with her partner Chris, little boy Sonny and pug Sebastian. She's passionate about all things children’s fiction and believes that every child can be a book lover. Follow her informative blog at Ragamuffin Books.