Guest post by Jill Lord
I met Jill Lord at a writers’ conference several years ago. Last May, she wore out the carpet in a large auditorium at Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference running up to the stage receiving awards for her children’s picture books .
As the school year begins, my mind goes back to sending daughters to school. First, two left at home, then only one. Reading to pass time was one way we waited for sisters to return from school. In Jill’s guest post, she shares the extraordinary treasures of reading to kids. Welcome Jill!
I remember giving my children medicine for ear infections. They would resist taking it until I’d say, “the doctor says you need to take this.” They’d open their mouths, wrinkle up their noses, and allow the healing tincture into their bodies.
Now, due to recent research, pediatricians are taking another stand. Reading to your children as early as in utero and infancy, has numerous benefits. I’ve bundled this information into nine categories. Here’s what I found.
Reading to your children:
- Improves brain development. Studies show the more you read to your child, the left-brain regions grow and connect in a way that will benefit the child as they read in the future. It improves their literacy, cognitive development, vocabulary, and readiness for school. Who doesn’t want this for their children?
- Limits their screen time and helps them sleep better. It’s easy to put children in front of a screen, even with educational information, but simply putting away screens, pulling out a book, and reading to your child promotes a better night’s sleep. Studies show that children of all ages fall asleep faster if they haven’t been staring at a screen two hours prior to bedtime. This adds up to more than an hour of extra sleep during the school week. Put the screens away and pull out the bedtime books
- Helps them concentrate. Kids may squirm at first, but when they sit and listen to you read for longer periods of time, it’s a sign their attention span is increasing. This skill will serve them well when they begin school. Teachers will thank you.
- Increases empathy. Reading helps children identify with characters and feel what the character may be experiencing. This teaches them values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding those who are different from ourselves. This is important for all ages to learn and gives children a head start.
- Improves imagination. Reading takes children into another world without leaving their homes. It lets their minds run free and improves their own creativity. It may help them form creative solutions to problems they encounter as they grow.
- Creates a bond. In reading to your child, conversation occurs. The parent may discover more of what their child likes, dislikes, and what scares them. Reading promotes relaxation where everyone involved may open up and share thoughts through reading a book.
- Promotes joy. Reading to your child shows them that they matter. Even kids have bad days and sitting with a parent, listening to a bedtime story may be the highlight of their day..
- Allows for snuggles. Embrace the touch and quiet. Some children outgrow the desire to be nestled in their parent’s lap but reading a book to them buys a little more time in the snuggle category. I am all for this.
- Helps them learn about God. Be sure to include God-centered, Jesus-focused, faith-based books. You can control what they read, especially in the early years. Since you are reading books to them, pick wholesome, spiritual, Christ-centered books to help build a strong foundation in their faith, starting at an early age.
The brain develops rapidly from zero to six years of age. The more exposure to reading, the more you enrich and nurture these brain networks related to social and academic ability. Kids will gain in the future.
So, grab some books, plop your child in your lap, and enjoy good stories together. You can tell them, “It’s the doctor’s orders”.
Do you have experiences to share? Tell us your sweet times about reading with children.
Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)