Why Reading Matters
Neuroscience provides compelling evidence that about 90 percent of brain growth occurs in the first five years of life. This affects not only cognitive skills but also emotional development.
Fostering your child’s cognitive development is just as important as nurturing his or her emotional and physical development. Cognitive development includes language skills, information processing, reasoning, intelligence, and memory.
When children are young, they learn language from the speech they hear. By reading together every day, you stimulate and strengthen your child's language, literacy and other cognitive skills. It is that simple. When you read and talk with your child, you also bond with them and model the love of reading, which will benefit them in school and throughout life.
When you read with a child, new connections are formed in the brain and previous connections are strengthened. These connections cultivate cognitive and social and emotional learning and development, which nurture a child’s early language and literacy skills.
Research demonstrates that, “children who are routinely read to day in and day out – and immersed in rich talk about books and the various activities in which they are engaged – thrive” (AAP, 2014; Cunningham, 2013; Needlman, 2006; 2014; Bernstein, 2010; Senechal & LeFevere, 2002). These rich reading and conversational experiences between young children and their caregivers play a major role in academic success and throughout life (Durkin, 1966, Bus van Ijezendoorn and Pellegrini, 1995, Neuman and Celano, 2006).
In fact, MRI scans show increased brain activity in children whose parents read with them regularly (WebMD).
Reading From Birth
It is never too early to begin reading with your child. From day one, your child is learning every waking moment. In the first few years of your child’s life, more than 1 million new connections between cells in the brain are formed each second (Center on the Developing Child). This is a rate faster than at any other time in his or her life. You help nurture your child's listening, memory, vocabulary skills, and more when you read together.
Keep on Reading
It’s important to continue reading with your child every day, even when they can read independently. Continuing this daily routine strengthens your bond with your child. It also builds his or her vocabulary because when you read with them, you introduce many more words than those typically used in day-to-day conversations.
Reading with a child isn’t just about reading what’s written on the page. By using dramatic voices, pointing to different pictures on the page, and asking your child to predict what will happen next, you are engaging him or her on many different levels.