Although there is little consensus about the negative impact of media consumption on children, experts universally agree that reading offers developmental, social and economic benefits for children. According to the non-profit literacy advocacy group United Through Reading®, children whose parents read aloud with them experience a variety of benefits, including the development of listening skills, an expanded vocabulary and improved language skills.
Other benefits are less tangible. The personal attention you give your child as you read together provides a crucial self-esteem boost. Reading can also spark your child’s imagination, teach him or her important concepts, and introduce positive attitudes and behaviors that will prove useful later in life.
Three Steps to Reading Success
An age-appropriate approach is important for establishing an early love of words in your child. To make reading time with your toddler successful and enjoyable for both of you, try the following tips:
• Make time. The Children’s Reading Foundation recommends reading to your child for at least 20 minutes each day. Break the time up into shorter sessions if necessary.
• Fake it until you make it. Your child may not understand every plot detail, but at ages 18 to 24 months, he or she can begin modeling reading behaviors. This may include handling books with care or memorizing and repeating portions of favorite stories. Reward this behavior with praise and encouragement.
• Focus on active learning. Choose books with photos or pictures of familiar activities and objects, and involve your child by asking him or her questions as you read. Whenever possible, emphasize rhythm, rhyme and repetition—you can even try turning stories into songs.
Over time, you and your toddler can develop a reading routine. Each session can build on the last as your child’s vocabulary grows and he or she learns to recognize pictures and patterns. By age 3, it should be no surprise if your child begins chiming in when you read his or her favorite book!
Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent accepts donations of new items for pediatric patients, including books, crayons, movies, toys and other items. Visit peytonmanning.stvincent.org and click “Ways to Give” to learn how to make a donation.
This article was reviewed by Molly McCloud, child life specialist, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent.