1. Reading out loud helps babies begin to learn words
It might not seem worth reading to a newborn or young baby, but little ones start picking up on language cues way earlier than you’d expect — especially if you read to them often. Research shows babies’ brains start preparing language skills far before they begin to talk, and they may even understand phrases and simple sentences as early as a year old.
Reading to your baby consistently (one study suggests daily is best) helps them become familiar with new words and ideas, even if they’re not babbling just yet. Also, you don’t have to stick to children’s books at this point. When they’re this little, you can read babies anything (yep, even your favorite novel), according to the Child Mind Institute, and still reap the benefits.
2. Reading is a habit that builds over time
3. Books help kids expand their vocabularies
You might not talk about giraffes, zebras, and lions all that much in your everyday life, but you surely can find a book that talks about those animals in detail. The experts at the National Center on Early Childhood Development and Teaching point out that children’s books often use words that might not pop up in casual conversation, but are nonetheless crucial to learn.
4. It can help boost their listening skills
Learning to listen and absorb new information is one of the foundations of literacy, and a key skill for little ones on their journey to learning to read. Turns out, letting your child listen to you read out loud is one of the best ways to help develop these listening skills. So much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to aloud children from birth. As kids get older, audiobooks can also be a useful tool in developing and honing listening skills.
5. Stories teach kids empathy
Book-smarts are one thing, but emotional intelligence is also super important. Books can teach kids about the world around them, but they can also show them what others’ lives are like in other life circumstances and parts of the world. Stories about feelings can also help kids familiarize themselves with different emotions and how to handle them, so that when they pop up in real life, they’re prepared.
6. Reading together strengthens your bond
Research suggests that reading out loud to your child creates a shared experience between you that makes your relationship even stronger. So snuggle up, pick out a story, and spend some quality time together.
7. They love it
Perhaps most importantly, children overwhelmingly love it when someone reads to them. How do we know? A survey done by the National Literacy Trust in the U.K. found that 95.6% of the children said they enjoyed having stories read to them. They loved getting to know new characters and getting involved and invested in storylines — just like many adults.