Make the Connection
Reading aloud to your kid is not only the single most important boost you can give to get him ready to read and write, it's also a magical way to strengthen the intrinsic bond the two of you share and will help both of you get in touch with what is central to your lives.
Reading Leads to Learning
Reading lays the foundation for a love of learning, for pushing the mind to question beyond the printed page. What's more, studies show that reading out loud can actually wire a child's brain to recognize patterns and sequences and predict outcomes — cognitive skills that affect all areas of life.
The benefits of reading with your child go far beyond the mechanics of word decoding and vocabulary lists. Reading sharpens listening and conversation skills, sparks the imagination, and expands a child's knowledge of the world around him.
A Special Bond
The intimate experience of reading yields important lessons about behavior, feelings, and the enduring bonds of relationships. It's a gift for time-challenged parents who may feel guilty about missing special moments with their kids. Snuggle together before lights-out, or schedule a Sunday morning reading hour, and you rekindle emotional closeness as well as impart important lessons, ease difficult transitions, heal personal pain, and celebrate family life.
Colorful illustrations draw a child even further into the story, allowing him to make a stronger connection between his personal experience and the story he's hearing. Remind him of similar times you've shared together and you strengthen the link: "Remember when we saw the monkeys at the zoo?" "Remember when we splashed in the ocean?"
It's a time that doesn't have to stop once he hits the I'll-read-on-my-own years, either. By consistently choosing books a notch or two above his current level, you challenge an older child's thinking and open the door to discussion about tough topics that may otherwise be difficult to bring up.
You can almost always find a story to use as a jumping-off point for conversation. And when you read about someone dealing with bullying, divorce, or even death, the issue then isn't personal; it's about the character in the story — and that's a whole lot easier to talk about.
Needless to say, snaring a child's attention away from television, videos, and electronic gizmos can be daunting. But books have it all: drama, action, dialogue, rhythm. It's up to you to make them come alive.