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Benefits of Reading Aloud
Q: What are the benefits of reading to children at a young age? How does it affect the development of their brains?
A: Reading to young children is one of the very best things that parents can do for them. Infants will delight in being cuddled and hearing the calming voices of their parents even though they don't understand the words. Soon they'll associate reading with attention, love, and pretty pictures.
As children get older, parents can introduce them to picture books and nursery rhymes. Even at a young age, they will be starting to learn a lot about reading. They'll discover that books are read from front to back and that pictures stand for real objects. As you continue to read to them and introduce them to stories, they'll find out that the print on the pages stands for words and that pages are read from top-to-bottom and left-to-right. Reading to young children is excellent preparation for formal reading instruction in school.
So much of the intelligence children will ultimately have is developed before they even get to kindergarten. When you read to them, you are building pathways in their brains needed for successful reading experiences. They will be developing auditory perception that allows them to think about how words sound. Furthermore, reading stimulates children's language development as they are like little sponges imitating everything they hear. Listening to stories will enhance their vocabularies and help them use longer sentences. Another wonderful plus in reading to children is that it increases their attention spans and ability to focus to what is being said. In addition, reading makes children more curious - a trait that must be fostered in young children or they will never acquire it. And of course, their knowledge of the world will expand.
More than anything else, reading to young children gives them a desire to read. Many children who are read to begin reading on their own without any formal instruction.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.