Reading is so important. As adults, we know that, but developing a love of reading in children from an early age will prove so useful in their later life; in fact, enjoying books and reading stories from a very early age is crucial in the development of a child. Not only does it help with their ability to understand words, but it encourages them to begin to and develop their imagination – to see things and imagine things all by themselves – and to develop their speech, it improves concentration and introduces children to new concepts and the world around them.
Reading is also something children really enjoy. I’m sure you can all think of your child’s favourite book at the moment that they just can’t get enough of, no matter how many times you read it!
Both parents and nursery staff (later, teachers) play a vital role, not only in the development of reading skills but the ability to enjoy reading. The more a child is exposed to books and is read to from a young age, the more likely they are to gain an interest and passion for them and how they make them feel.
I know how much reading can offer – the feeling of getting lost in a great book that you simply can’t put down – and it is so much more than quiet time in a cosy reading corner or a quick 5 minute read before bed. Books are fun, they are enjoyable, curious, exciting, but they are educational in so many more ways than simply listening and speaking.
Children love it, even more, when we are enthusiastic ourselves about the books – adding in an element of excitement and suspense only make the experience more enjoyable for a child. Additionally, asking questions (to those who are a bit older) about the book – e.g. favourite bits, what might happen next etc. – is a way of furthering this development and engaging with the child about the book in a positive and thoughtful way.
It’s not just the older children who benefit from reading, even babies love books! The opportunity to touch and experience different textures and sounds is essential for promoting that early pleasure and interest in books. There are SO many great pop up books out there so it really is never too early to start reading to a child and engaging with them about a book… you’d be surprised at how much engagement you can often get from a very young age.
Benefits of reading to children
Children develop more in the first 5 years of their life than at any other time (hence why these are called the foundation years), and during these years’ children start building the blocks for the rest of their life. Reading is just one of these blocks. However, it is not simply just ‘reading’- it is SO much more. It is spelling, listening, writing, literacy, social skills, imagination, drama… the list goes on!
Parents are the most important educators in a child’s life. Reading with your child and giving the gift of reading for pleasure from an early age really is probably one of the best gifts you can give to your child to help their future and their development! Snuggling with your child and sharing a book together is great for developing healthy relationships and well-being, creating special memories, you will love the same book over and over which may drive you crazy but rest assured they are developing new vocabulary which they will become more confident with.
Need help choosing your child’s next book?
Visit the BookTrust website to discover some of the best new books as well as children’s classics for you to read again.
If you would like any guidance on best books for different ages, then feel free to get in touch with us.
Guest post by: Isabelle O’Connell, PGCE Primary Teacher