Do you spend time reading to your kids? Have you integrated reading into your daily routine whether it’s during quiet time or before going to bed? I’m sure you have a pile of children’s books; maybe some books have been destroyed through rough play and others have the corners chewed off. Books are important. Reading is important. And it’s never too early to start reading to your kids.
It’s not difficult to agree on the fact that reading is important. We all have to learn how to read and write, but reading regularly, reading out loud, and reading together has an incredible long-lasting impact on the development of a child. Reading is so much more than just simply going through the words written on a page. It’s about discovery, investigating, growing, and communicating.
One of the first obvious reasons that reading is important to start at a young age is that it helps with literacy. If you read a book out loud, everyone listening is engaged in recognizing the vocabulary, associating words with images, and learning how to correctly pronounce the words. This is particularly important in a bi-lingual or multilingual environment. The more reading that happens across the different languages helps not only with learning the vocabulary, but also with pronunciation and how to use those words correctly based on context. Studies show that reading for just 15 minutes a day can increase your vocabulary by 1 million words a year!
Children are very perceptive. They can sense when something is wrong, when there is a celebration, and when there is danger. Reading helps children recognize different social situations, how to face them, and how to sympathize with the characters. Stories spark their imagination and can help them problem solve when faced with a difficult situation. Everything they experience and absorb through the power of storytelling can later be used to help them deal with real life. The more stories they read and dive into, the more tools they will have linguistically and socially to help them solve problems.
There was a recent study done on reading and screen-time and it came out with the “Goldilocks Effect.” We can assume that a lot of screen-time isn’t the best thing for infants and young children and this study didn’t necessarily condemn screens but highlighted the importance of reading out loud to children. At a young age, audio narrative alone like an audiobook was “too cold,” barely stimulating the brain, whereas noise with animated videos was “too hot”, overstimulating the brain. The magic happened and was “just right” when there were illustrations accompanied by a relevant narrative – reading illustrated children’s books.
Many studies throughout the years have also associated reading at a young age to higher test scores at school and a higher IQ. Reading shouldn’t have the end goal of achieving good grades in the future, but instead of equipping children with as many ways possible to best communicate and express themselves.
Start Reading Today
Don’t stress over the weight of the importance of reading. We all have extremely busy schedules and it might feel impossible to start implementing reading time into a day already bursting with activities. Start small. On the weekend stop at the library with your kids while you’re running errands to let them pick out some books of their choice. Leave books in the open so they have more opportunities to see them and browse through the pages. And lastly, set an example. Instead of scrolling through social media, pick up a book!
Below are 7 books we like and recommend to read to your child….
The Mommy Book by Todd Parr
This sweet book for early readers (ages 2 to 3) is a favorite among parents. With vibrant illustrations and easy-to-understand words, The Mommy Book touches on all the different kinds of mommies—be it those who sing or those who teach you to be exactly who you are—which is perfect for building your toddler’s sense of empathy.
My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall
For all the animal-loving toddlers, My Heart Is Like A Zoo is the perfect early-reader book (ages 2 to 3) due to its recognizable shapes and win-your-heart animal illustrations. Critically-acclaimed authors and parents alike adore Hall’s use of more than 300 hearts for toddlers to count and learn. It garnered five stars for good reason.
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
If you’re looking to sob for the next little while, Love You Forever will get you there. This timeless tale of a mother’s love of her growing son has been deemed one of the best toddler books of all time and has sold over 15 million copies since its original release in 1986.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
As one of the gold-standard, bestselling books for early readers ages 1-3 years, The Very Hungry Caterpillar offers many things your toddler will love. The board book with more than 58,000 ratings on Amazon is gorgeously drawn, with a teachable tale about life, growth, and embracing change to become your best self.
Truly a timeless story that every parent should have on their bookshelf, just about every kid will read this book by the time they make it to kindergarten.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Any toddler who loves made up creatures will get a kick out of The Gruffalo. The story follows a clever mouse who invents a silly “gruffalo” to stay safe in the woods. With nearly 15,000 ratings, this Amazon Teacher’s Pick has a 4.9 rating for its witty, easy-to-follow writing and bold illustrations.
It’s an adorable take on monsters and fears, helping them say “good night!” in peace.
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
For toddlers learning about emotions, this book about feeling shines. Happiness, anger, sadness and bravery are just a few feelings surrounded by beautifully illustrated artwork. In My Heart aids in emotional development in early readers ages 2 to 5.
Ricky, the Rock That Couldn’t Roll by Mr. Jay
Five years since its release, Ricky The Rock That Couldn’t Roll is still an Amazon bestseller. Toddlers will fall in love with Ricky as he and his friends find a way to help him roll.
Written in verse, this good book is best for ages three and up and helps teach the power of perseverance in the face of adversity.