Reading to our kids every night for their entire childhood is one of those things new parents all vow to do and most of us start of with the best of intentions. I know I did!
When my first born was little I would read to him religiously every night. Then his baby brother came along and bedtime stories became less of a constant but still occurred regularly. Enter child three, along with all the chaos of family life, and I’m ashamed to admit that these days reading aloud gets skipped as much as it happens. When it does happen it is for the benefit of the youngest child, with the older ones being left to read on their own.
State Of The Nation
It turns out, my reading predicament is not uncommon.
According to the Australian Kids & Family Reading Report 2015, more than half of children aged 0–5 are read aloud to at home 5–7 days a week. However, this declines to four in 10 kids aged 6–8, and one in 10 kids aged 9–11.
The most common reasons parents said they stopped reading aloud was that their child was able to read independently. Sadly, out of the children aged 6–11 whose parents no longer read books aloud at home, more than one-third said they had not wanted their parents to stop. Kids of all ages love being read to!
Why We Need To Keep Reading Aloud To Our Kids
The proven benefits of reading aloud at home to children has long been publicized. There are the obvious positive effects it has on literacy skills, such as letter recognition, other pre-reading skills and comprehension. It also improves a child’s vocabulary as they are exposed to a wider range of words. In fact, listening to stories has been shown to activate ares in the left-side of the brain involved in understanding the meanings of words and concepts, as well as memory.
There are other amazing effects the simple act of reading aloud can have on our children, such as:
- Improved numeracy skills and ability to understand abstract concepts.
- Improved attention and concentration skills, positively impacting behaviour.
- Increased capacity for empathy as stories expose children to a wide range of social concepts and diversity.
- Establishing a lifelong love of reading.
The ritual of reading together also carves out a special time for just you and your children, creating moments of connection and strengthening your bond.
It Is Never Too Late To Start
While we are all busy and tired, the evidence clearly shows we should all be making daily reading with our children a priority. Experts recommend reading aloud to children from birth, however, it is never too late to start a good habit. Whether your child is 1 or 11, you can make positive changes by reading aloud to them. It only takes 10-15 minutes a day to have such an enormous impact on your child’s future.