Storytelling is as old as time. From Adam and Eve to the Trojan War, the history of human civilization rests in the stories our ancestors used to tell, perhaps around a fire, so many thousands of years ago. The advantages of reading or telling a story to your young child are many, and not only educationally, but also neurologically, psychologically, linguistically and socially. Here are seven reasons to start reading now!
- You might not think it has any effect on them when they're really really small, but babies learn a lot from the sound of your voice and from the colorful images they see in the first books you read for them. At this young age, they begin to understand the intonations of language, and will later on be able to copy the way words sound: a precursor to talking. Reading to your baby will also help them focus and memorize colours and shapes.
- Reading helps develop a young child's brain. Vital connections are made in the early stages of life and babies and toddlers learn at an accelerated pace. As you talk, read and play with your child, new links are formed in the synapses of the brain, allowing your child to make new connections, memories and emotions.
- Reading improves language learning, coherence, pronunciation and greater general knowledge. It significantly expands their vocabulary from a very young age. They will of course also learn to read early on; a great advantage for when they start school. This proficiency also leads to better comprehension of stories/situations.
- Reading promotes better concentration. A child who is interested in reading will invariably be able to focus more on the tasks at hand. The nuances, characters, and situations of stories will also lead to excellent research skills, which are imperative later on in their academic life.
- Reading makes for a much more mature, disciplined child. The ability to concentrate will allow them to cognitively engage with the story, sparking their curiosity about people, places and things. It may expose the child to situations where problem-solving is required and will most certainly ignite their creativity and imagination.
- When the time comes for reading to be taught at school, your child will already be at an advantage. They will be popular with their peers and will probably win prizes for outstanding skill. They will have an understanding of correct grammar, spelling and will articulate much better than their peers of the same age.
- Reading is to mind what exercise is to the body. Promote reading throughout your child's life, even long after they've learned to proficiently read on their own. Lead by example! Reading promotes tranquility in the home, and is a great stress reliever, much needed for the angst-filled teenage years! Lots of research has shown that reading has also been found to slow down (maybe even prevent) diseases such as Alzheimer's and Dementia later on in life.
Of course, not all children can sit still on a lap and concentrate on your best attempts at animal and fairy voices. The key here is perseverance. If you are finding it difficult to read to your child, start by reading the same book at the same time every day. The repetition and routine will work by making them recognize something familiar, and they'll soon be keen to do story time with you anytime!