30 Benefits of Reading for children

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“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body” – Joseph Addison

If this quote confuses you, just think – isn’t exercise absolutely essential for good health, whatever your age? Well, it’s the same way with reading! A book is a pastime, a means of travel, a source of knowledge and a companion in lonely times. With so many avatars, it’s no surprise that reading has many benefits for the human mind. Considering the fact that little kids’ minds are like sponges, absorbing everything they see and hear around them, the benefits are multiplied several times for them!

If you’re wondering when kids can start to read, well it’s never too early to start. They can be read to even before they’re born; yes, you can read to a fetus! Of course, it doesn’t matter if you sit and read the latest sports news or financial analysis, they won’t understand anything! But it gets them used to the sound of your voice and that familiarity helps them when they’re finally out in the big bad world.

There are some serious advantages for reading to babies and kids, and of course for kids when they begin to read by themselves. Here is a comprehensive list of ways reading benefits kids – at all ages!

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 Reading and infants

1. Bonding

For infants, being read to by their Moms increases the bonding between them, which is very critical for children at this age. Reading is also a lovely way for Dads to bond with their little ones, especially if they miss out on a lot during the day.

2. Speech skills

Research has found that babies’ speech skills improve when being read to, even before they actually start to speak. One study showed that 8 month olds who were read to every day understood 40% more words than their peers who weren’t read to. Hearing new words being spoken everyday form the very basic of phonics.

3. Motor skills

When reading is part of their daily routine, babies often sit and ‘play’ with books. They try to turn pages and look to see how the picture changes when they do so. Most books targeted at infants also have interactive features and different textures which help in developing a baby’s fine and gross motor skills.

4. Memory

Books help to develop basic memory skills in babies. As they read the same book over and over, they begin to understand that the same sequence repeats itself and they even begin to anticipate what’s coming on the next page.

5. Listening

Being read to is a wonderful exercise in developing listening skills. Even young babies are seen to follow pictures on a page and respond to the sounds their parents make while reading. It is also an expert-recommended way of spending ‘quiet time’ after a period of over-stimulation.

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 Reading and toddlers & preschoolers

6. Handling of Books

 If you’ve been reading to your child since he was a baby, it’s likely that by now your toddler knows how to handle books. They get used to seeing people buying new books, arranging them neatly, and carrying them about. It helps in the build up to a lifetime of caring for their books and belongings.

7. Communication

Books offer a lot of scope for role play, which helps greatly in developing good communication skills. Kids learn the right situations to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you’ as well as several other social niceties from books. Facing a situation in real life becomes all the easier when it has already been encountered in a book.

8. Vocabulary

Kids this age are still being read to, but this still helps to develop their vocabulary. Experts point out that reading helps introduce children to Tier-2 words, which are words that aren’t commonly used in their everyday speech. Car, House, Dog etc. are Tier-1 words, so a young child is exposed to more complex words through reading.

9. Imagination

Everyone agrees that young children have an unlimited supply of imagination, which sadly gets overcome by reality as they grow. Imagination is essential for a child’s cognitive development and books help a lot in this area. Unlike TV, a book requires the child to create images and sounds within his head, fostering imaginative thinking.

10. Early learning

Books for toddlers and preschoolers don’t focus only on a story; they also have a lot of scope for learning. Young children are introduced to the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes as well as names of common objects and animals. And since this learning happens in the course of enjoying a story, kids learn without even realizing it!

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11. Coping skills

Kids of this age love familiarity and routine and change upsets them. During any kind of stressful situation, like a new baby, moving house or Mom going back to work, a child can find solace in familiar books and routines. Reading a book about the particular situation he is going through can help ease his discomfort and help him cope better.

12. Quality time

Toddlers and preschoolers are bundles of energy, and they probably find it difficult to sit still for a minute. Reading while cuddling them is a great way for a parent and child to get some quality time during their busy day, while the toddler also gets a chance for his mind to recharge from the stimulation of the day’s various activities.

Reading and early school goers

13. Academics

Reading has a direct correlation to academic performance in kids. A study by the Institute of Education has found that kids aged 5, 10 and 16 who read for pleasure all did better on tests than their counterparts who didn’t read as much. And the benefits aren’t confined to just language subjects, they even extended to subjects like mathematics.

14. Logical thinking

Logical thinking refers to a certain reasoning that a person does, based on certain facts to arrive at a conclusion or decision. This is an important life skill that is greatly enhanced through reading. By seeing characters overcome different kinds of problems, especially in mysteries, kids can subconsciously develop their own sense of logic.

15. New experiences

Not every child has the opportunity to get on a plane at this age, but he can still enjoy the experience by reading about it. Books help kids live the lives of the characters within and go on adventures with them, without actually having to do it. Books also provide inspiration for positive real life experiences the child would like to try.

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16. Concentration

Sitting in a place and finishing a chapter in one go requires a certain level of focus which helps develop mindfulness in children. This helps them concentrate on a task at hand and enjoy it thoroughly by being in the moment. Concentration also helps to improve academic performance.

17. Entertainment

Books are a wonderful, cost-effective way to get entertained, especially in this world of too much technology. The harmful effects of too much TV or screen-games have been well documented, and books offer a welcome respite from all that. They’re also very useful during travel or as a backup plan on rainy days when other plans for entertainment can’t work out.

18. Exposure

It is important for a child to know that there is a whole new world out there, beyond his home and school. Books are a great way to introduce a child to the different countries out there. This exposure gives them an upper hand in school and extra curricular activities, thus boosting their confidence.

19. Analytical skills

Reading a book doesn’t end when you turn the last page; a good book usually stays with you. A child of school going age is old enough to discuss what he read, about the characters, their lives and what happened to them. This helps them develop good comprehension and analytical skills and also encourages an objective view of a problem – another essential life skill.

20. Identifying interests

By reading books belonging to different genres and featuring people from various walks of life, kids get introduced to different interests and one of them is bound to catch their attention and develop into a passion. Such passions may become more serious later on and even help in choosing careers when they reach that stage.

Teens reading and its benefits for them- Parenting resources by ZenParent

Reading and older kids & teens

21. Empathy

Psychologists at the New School for Social Research in New York have conducted a scientific study which shows that reading helps to develop empathy which in turn improves a person’s social relationships. Experiencing the feelings of someone in different circumstances and understanding their reasons is a great part of empathy, and characters in books help in developing this more effectively than any other method.

22. Tolerance

Most people would agree that of all the things that are wrong in the world today, a lack of tolerance is among the top ten. The only way to nip this in the bud is with the next generation. When kids are able to empathize with characters in books, they are more likely to do the same for people in real life, especially those who are from different backgrounds and cultures.

23. History & Culture

Books, especially historical books and literary fiction, are a great way to travel back in time and understand the culture of another time and another place. It’s a great way for kids to learn that since time immemorial, mankind’s greatest needs have been the same basic ones everywhere, and the greatest revolutions have been against oppression.

24. Creativity

What helped develop imagination in toddlers translates into increased creativity for teenagers and preteens. Reading various authors encourages teens to try creative writing, which is a great outlet for an emotional time like adolescence. Creative writing can also improve communication skills and open career opportunities.

25. Pro-social activities

Research has shown that pastimes like computer games can increase anti social behavior in teenagers, but it is also true that reading cuts down on such behavior. The cumulative effect of increased empathy, exposure and tolerance for others makes teens more self confident and sociable.

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26. Better articulation

Reading improves vocabulary and diction, along with better awareness about the world. This results in improved articulation and communication skills which include listening, writing and speaking. An improved confidence in these areas can help teenagers who are on the brink of choosing a career.

27. Relaxation

Adolescence is not an easy time, filled with many physical and emotional changes, apart from reaching academic milestones. Reading helps teens get away from the stress of it all, by disappearing into another world altogether. They can relax their minds from the expectations around them and ease up a little with the help of a good book.

28. Better judgment

In the quest for finding themselves, teenagers often make bad choices with similar consequences. But a well read teenager will find that he has a better understanding of people and the world and is more aware of the consequences of his actions. This helps in making better and safer choices concerning himself and his future.

29. Role models

Nowadays, there is a constant inflow of negative news from everywhere. In such a scenario, it is hard to find a good role model for young people, but books solve this problem. They are full of inspiring and good people from different eras and different lands, but with similar values. Even teenagers who live in less than ideal circumstances have found inspiration in good books.

30. Dreams

Books make us realize that nothing’s impossible only if we put our hearts to it. A good book inspires the most underprivileged child to work to raise himself to higher levels that he is truly capable of. Kids learn about opportunities they previously were unaware of and they read about people who defy all odds to attain their dreams.

As you can see, these benefits of reading aren’t restricted to toddlers or teens, they are just as applicable to adults! Books can help even adults learn values like tolerance, empathy and loving in spite of differences. There are many adults too who’ve been inspired by books and who’ve gone on to follow their passions – after all, it’s never too late to dream! Reading is the one thing that all child experts recommend as crucial for child development. As American writer Sandra Cisneros says, “I always tell people that I became a writer not because I went to school but because my mother took me to the library.” Now that is the magic of reading!

Image Source: via Google Images

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