Toddlers, and indeed children of all ages, absolutely love having stories read out loud to them. After all, it’s fun, captivating entertainment for them. However, it is also very valuable and beneficial — particularly to young children. The benefits of being read to are actually profound for little ones when you take time to look at them. So, today, that’s exactly what we do in our new guide, ‘12 Benefits of Reading Out Loud to Little Ones.’
12 Benefits of Reading Out Loud to your Little One
1. Expands Vocabulary
Children learn a lot by listening to and copying their parents, caregivers and adults. By listening to them read out loud, it helps to increase children’s vocabulary through hearing new words in new contexts and scenarios. They may then get to hear words that are not often used in everyday conversations. For example, if the story is about a swimming trip and your child has never been on a beach or pool trip, lots of new words will come to their attention. In this example, words like pool, sea, beach, cold, and sandy may be introduced to their vocabulary.
2. Reinforces Word Recognition & Meaning
Reading out loud to children reinforces the links between the written word, the spoken word and their equivalent in the physical world. So, through repeated hearing, the child may begin to recognise the word from the story additionally in written form and within the real world itself. Pictures within story books can also reinforce words when verbally discussed with the little one. Your child may, for example, recognise their favourite character, toy and/or activity from a book and begin to associate names, nouns and verbs with them in their everyday life.
3. Improves Attention Spans
When we read a story out loud, the plot usually unfolds over many pages. This gradual revealing of the storyline promotes an increased attention span in the children. It’s exciting for your child to hear what happens next to their favourite character, or to wonder how the story is going to end. Being read to is a slower process than, say, watching television and this slow reveal encourages the child to keep focussed and patiently wait for the story to unfold.
4. Stimulates Imagination & Creativity
Being read both fictional stories and non-fiction facts will help widen children’s knowledge of the world, life, and all its possibilities. Their exposure to new characters, events, scenarios and locations will stimulate children to use their imaginations and think more creatively about all the possibilities. They can start to imagine what might happen next, for example, particularly if the adult reading asks the child to analyse and feed back about what’s happening in the story. Going forwards, exposure to verbally read stories may indeed even help make them more creative writers and thinkers.
5. Stimulates Emotions
Your child can experience a whole range of emotions by listening to and discussing the story with you. This is an opportunity for your child to recognise and express various emotions in relation to the story, which could be happy, exciting, frightening or sad — and anything in between. Whatever is happening in the story, though, do try and make the talking point a positive one so your child isn’t left unhappy or scared at the end (particularly near bedtime). If there are any concerns, simply remind them that this is just a story — it’s not real.
6. Promotes Empathy
Being in touch with emotions is an important part of children’s development, though, and one that leads to another important new emotion — that of empathy. If a child relates to the situation or character in the story, they are more able to put themselves in the shoes of the person or character and get a taste of what it would feel like to be them. This is a healthy thing and one that may lead them to treat people, animals and even plants with a greater respect, and nurture their more caring side.
7. A Role-Play Opportunity
When reading to the child, the parent or caregiver has the opportunity to really breathe life into the characters, allowing the child to connect more closely to the character and the story. With some added sound effects and expression the characters can truly come to life and children will love this. Indeed, this may encourage many to join in with some role-play of their own. That’s another wonderfully creative opportunity for them.
8. Deepens Bonds
Reading out loud with a child can truly promote closer natural bonds between the parent/caregiver and the child. After all, this is quality time that they can spend together, with full focus, no distractions and 100% of attention shared between adult and child.
9. A Head Start in Writing
Reading to a child also gives the child a likely head start before formally learning to write. Through listening, they have learned the association between the written word and the spoken word. They might therefore be able to start recognising the printed words and learning how to break words down. This also starts them on the path towards learning the alphabet.
10. Teaches Written Structure
Reading stories to children also teaches them about the structure and sequence of reading. For example, many stories can be described as having a beginning, middle and end and later children may be introduced to concepts like introductions, chapters, quotes, scene-setting, plot twists and suchlike. From the most basic perspective, children will also grasp the concept of how books actually work, physically, i.e. reading from the beginning of the first page, then turning from page to page. This will help them when they start looking at books on their own.
11. Reduces Stress
Quality story time allows children to become fully immersed in the story. This diversion of attention potentially represents a great stress reliever for the child. It’s a chance to sit down and relax while the story is being told and is often a great way to distract children from things that have perhaps made them stressed or anxious during their day. And, of course, exactly the same can be said for the parent or caregiver that’s doing the reading.
12. It’s Great Fun!
Last, but my no means least, reading out loud with a child is great fun for all parties! So, both adult and child will have some quality ‘fun’ time together, able to enjoy the alternative world, adventures and scenarios that are opened up to them via the media of books. Indeed, many parents enjoy a good children’s book just as much, it seems, as the children!
Tips for Creating the Perfect Reading Environment
- Have a collection of lots of books with different types of storyline, to keep things varied and children’s interest optimised.
- Include some books that have interactive facets to interest children, like pop-ups, flaps to turn, texture patches to reveal and even sounds.
- Use a comfortable reading area with your child. This could be a designated reading corner, maybe with cushions, or simply on a comfy settee.
- If it’s a cold day, perhaps snuggle together under a blanket.
- If your child needs a drink or snack, perhaps get that sorted before you start reading.
- Choose a book together; they might pick their favourite or ask healthy questions around which one to read next.
- Immerse yourself in the story, get into the characters, and recreate their speech and emotions. Pull faces to demonstrate emotions or use hand actions in appropriate places. This is a great way to make the story more enjoyable and lifelike — for both you and your child. Encourage your child to join in!
- In appropriate places, see if your child can guess the next word, or what might happen next.
- After story time, discuss what happened with your child and, if not yet complete, where the story is potentially heading.
- Always ensure that any words they are not familiar with are explained and encourage questions and interactions from them.
All in all, reading stories out loud to children is a wonderful, happy, creative and relaxing way to spend time and enjoy the many benefits, together. Children that are read to in early life are also likely to want to hear more stories and may well go on to become avid readers themselves once they’re older. And, let it be said, reading is a very worthwhile and educational pastime and one that teaches and nurtures so much in each growing child. Recommended!
Reading at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston (Birmingham)
Reading to children is a regular activity at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston and helps to support the EYFS curriculum at the nursery. Feedback and interaction from children are both encouraged, so they get really involved and learn from the process. We also, of course, recommend that parents actively involve themselves in children’s education when at home, including reading with them regularly. Parental input is proven to pay many dividends to children’s progress, school-readiness and indeed life outcomes.
Childcare Places Available at Leaps & Bounds Nursery/Pre-school, Edgbaston
Are you interested in a possible place for your baby or under-five child at Leaps & Bounds nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham? We are located near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick and support all childcare funding options available to eligible families. If you’d like to register your child for a place, get answers to questions that you may have, or request a guided tour of the nursery with your child, please get in touch using a button below: