By Susan Phillips
Did you know that reading to your baby is one of the best ways to help your child succeed in college?
Reading aloud is the single most important activity parents can do to improve their child’s vocabulary and reading comprehension. Talking with your child about the story and asking open-ended questions as you read, encourages your child’s involvement in reading and builds his or her vocabulary. By second grade, children with larger vocabularies know approximately 4,000 more root words than children who are not read to regularly. Reading to your child from birth through elementary school improves cognitive skills and increases IQ scores. Simply put, early literacy sets in motion the life-long passion for reading and love of learning that lead to future school success.
Did you know reading to a child has natural health benefits for both the listener and the reader? Stress and anxiety decrease the body’s ability to fight infection and are linked to a variety of health problems. The pleasures of spending time with your child and sharing a good book provide an intimate and welcome escape from busy workdays and evenings filled with homework, after-school activities and household chores. Interacting with you builds your child’s emotional stability and social skills in a way that computers and television cannot. Reading aloud to your child promotes bonding and touch, relieves stress and increases our emotional and physical health.
Even if you don’t have a young child or grandchild to read with, you can volunteer for story time at your local elementary school, daycare, public library or pediatric waiting room.
Older adults and people coping with serious illnesses also benefit from the brain stimulation and relief from boredom a good book offers. Often sight-impaired people or those physically unable to hold a book particularly enjoy hearing familiar stories, or perhaps the Bible, being read to them. Studies show even Alzheimer’s patients benefit from hearing stories read aloud.
Do you know someone coping with a serious illness? Reading aloud is a way to show you care when conversation may be difficult, as well as a wonderful opportunity to provide the family member or regular caregiver with a welcome break.
Feed your soul and nourish the hearts around you. Start the new year by sharing the gift of reading with your family and community.