Reading to kids has many benefits

Reading to children — even infants — is a great way to increase their brain development, enhance their language skills and put them on a path to academic success.

Kelly Meyer, DO, a pediatrician with FamilyHealth Medical Clinic, says reading is a great way to support children’s intellectual and emotional development.

“Reading has so many benefits,” she said. “It strengthens the parent-child bond while aiding the cognitive development that will serve them for a lifetime.”

When parents read to their children, Dr. Meyer says, they are building pathways in the brain that are critical to successful reading experiences. Reading also helps children develop auditory perception that allows them to think about how words sound.  It increases their attention spans and their ability to focus to what is being said. And, reading makes children more curious.

So much of the intelligence children will ultimately have is developed before they even get to kindergarten. By the time babies reach their first birthday, they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your child will be exposed to and the better he or she will be able to talk.

According to Dr. Meyer, hearing words helps to build a rich network of words in a baby’s brain. Kids whose parents frequently talk/read to them know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to. And kids who are read to during their early years are more likely to learn to read at the right time.

When parents read to their children, they hear many different emotions and expressive sounds, which foster social and emotional development. Reading also invites infants to look, point, touch, and answer questions — all of which promote social development and thinking skills. Infants improve language skills by imitating sounds, recognizing pictures, and learning words.

Reading to young children is one of the very best things parents can do for them, Dr. Meyer said.

“The touch, the voice recognition, all the love and attention packaged in the act of reading is a big plus for kids,” she said.