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You should read books to your child from the time they’re a baby until they’re much older. Start early.
Teaching your kids to read is an extremely important task as a parent. Reading comprehension affects every other facet of a child’s life (and an adult’s life). Every subject area in school relies on reading. While your kids are going to learn some reading in school, a lot of how well a child reads is done at home with their parents. If you leave reading completely to the school system, your child will struggle to read and comprehend for their grade level.
In order to teach your child to read, you need to read to them. A kid isn’t going to magically pick up a book one day and start reading it if you never read to them. They won’t have the basis for knowing what letters make what sounds, and how those sounds fit together. While they will learn those things in school over time, reading to them from an early age will help them to be on track to where they need to be.
How Often Should I Read To Kids?
Reading to your kids should not be a special occasion. It should be both regular and consistent (consistency is a common theme in articles we post about raising kids as it delivers a safety net for your child). If there is more than a day between reading to your kids, then you should evaluate how you can find time to read to them more regularly.
Children may be resistant to you reading to them if you’ve never done it before. You should begin with books that are interesting to them, and easily on the grade level that they read at. Trying to read a book that is way above a child’s reading level when you’ve not been consistently reading to them is going to be a tough sell, and your child will lose interest quickly.
For babies, you should read everyday to them. While they won’t be able to read yet, showing them pictures, pointing at them, and telling them the words are the most important part. While they may not recognize it at the time, you’re setting a foundation for them to learn to read.
I would recommend that you set aside time every day that is meant for reading. For children that are busy, you’ll want to schedule the time so it’s always the same time everyday. For toddlers and babies, spontaneous reading will likely be easier to accomplish, although having a scheduled reading time is still recommended.
What Should I Read To Kids?
Choosing what you read to kids, especially as you’re just getting started, can be just as important as how often you read. Choosing books that your child will find interesting, they can understand, and that aren’t too above they’re reading level will go a long way in your reading efforts.
For babies, books that have lots of pictures, and fewer words are preferable. For a child at this age, you’re really working on knowledge of what things are more than how to read. Babies can often look at a picture in a book for a long period of time. Choose books that can help them to see different objects and things that live in the world.
As babies move into the toddler phase, read books with lots of pictures, and more words. While we really like Dr. Seuss books, there are a lot of other great books for toddlers out there. Have plenty of books on hand so that you can spontaneously pick them up and read to your child. It’s pretty special when your child picks a book up and starts reading the words out of it that you’ve been reading to them for years.
As your child comes of school age, you can likely begin reading some more difficult books - fewer pictures and more words. While they’ll enjoy books that still have pictures, reading books with more words will help them get used to seeing less pictures. As your child progresses in school, they will be reading on their own as well.
As a child transitions into reading their own books, you can begin a transition into reading more difficult books to them - ones that may be a step above their grade level. This will help to push and challenge them to learn new words and increase their reading comprehension. The human mind is able to often comprehend things when we hear someone else reading them, even if we couldn’t read it all ourselves and understand it.
Read to your kids as long as you can. Start from the time that they’re a baby to as long as they’ll continue to listen to your voice. Make it a consistent part of their lives.