Why do we get our children, nieces or nephews, or grandchildren books? Well, for one it keeps them entertained! Whether they can read or haven’t learned how to yet, the pictures and stories or simply holding a book in their hands will occupy them, at least for a while. 

But why spending some time actually sitting down and reading them stories is so important to them, and to you?

Here are some benefits for the children:

It helps them develop their communication skills. When you read to your children, believe it or not, but if they don’t necessarily read the words, they certainly pay attention to what you say. It helps them increase their vocabulary very quickly, especially when they can associate a word with a picture!

They learn to read much faster. The more you read with them, and the more you spend time pointing out the spelling of the words, and making them repeat them after you, the quicker they will learn to read. Most children whose parents have been spending a lot of time reading with them already know their alphabets and some can even go through simple books on their own by the time they enter pre-school!

It increases their sense of wonder for life. By using various intonations depending on what you read to them (if, for example, you say “oooh!” when someone made a mistake, or “aaah” if a fairy princess learns how to fly for the first time), you give them a first “taste for life” really. You help them feel various emotions, which is a crucial process in children’s development. 

It helps them develop their imagination. As good as it is to see your child read on his or her own, no matter how old they are, try and sometimes “let them do it”. Let them tell you the story that’s in the book, whether you’ve already read it to them countless times or not. It’ll encourage them to use their own words to express themselves in their own ways but also to use their imagination to tell the story themselves. It’s also very cute to watch them do this! 

It’s “family time”. The time you spend reading with your children is time where you give them your undivided attention. They know it, and they love it. It shows them that you care, and any child needs to feel loved. that’s one great way to do it! 

Now, what are the benefits for you, parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts out there who read to children?

It gives you a sense of fulfilment and gratification. When you teach someone anything, you automatically feel happier, because you are sharing something with someone else. And with children, we take extra care to go at their own pace, to make sure they understand what we say, and we see them smile and laugh as we tell them those stories! How amazing does that feel!

It creates a deeper bond between you and your children. Any time spent as a family or just with your child or children is vital for your well-being too. This little human being loves you with all their heart and relies on you, and as you take the time to read books to them, love will also fill you. it makes you happier and healthier to know you’ve been sharing such moments with them. 

It helps you understand your children better. Reading books to your children is also a great way to “study” them in a non-intrusive way. You can see how attentive they are, and if they have any issues you may not be aware of (I, for example, had a hearing problem, and my mother realised I wouldn’t always understand the story not because I wasn’t listening but because I wasn’t “hearing” her well). You’ll also be able to see what kind of personality they have and understand what makes them laugh, cry, what scares them, and be able to observe their reactions to various parts of different stories. It’s fun, but also important.

It relaxes you and lowers your stress hormones. Yup! We all have a lot to do and taking half an hour to an hour to read to your child might seem like forever, especially when you still need to clean the house, prepare tomorrow’s presentation, etc. But, believe it or not, it will help you calm down. The trick is to do it right, though. Don’t rush it! Put yourself in the right mindset. Do it not only for your kid, but for yourself. You are going to spend time with someone you love exploring enchanted worlds! Allow yourself to disconnect from your current reality and enjoy that time with your children and even lose yourself in that fairy tale too! You will probably also find that reading a story to your kids at night also helps you sleep better yourself!

It may change your life. Becoming a parent is always life-changing. Being a grandparent is too! But by reading to your kids or grandchildren, you might discover a new passion or it may rekindle an interest you’ve always had! Say for example, that you love as a full-time, stay-at-home mum, you find out you actually love reading time, and decide to take a couple of hours a week to read to other children too at the local library! Or you may decide to write your own children’s books! Or you may want to create your own little cartoon. Or the stories you’ve been reading about with your kids inspire you to make jewellery or to create a new computer software or game for children. The possibilities are truly endless! 

All in all, reading to your children or, should I say, with your children, has countless benefits and is just a wonderful way to spend time together and to grow as a family!

So happy reading everyone!

Mahina Perrot