Why you should read to your child. By Jo Ryan.

We all know that reading to or with your child is good for them. Reading is vital for literacy, developing vocabulary and promoting their imagination. It also teaches your child about language and emotions.

With the use of electronic devices, like tables, by children increasing, we could be losing sight of the value of reading. And it’s not just reading, you can also look at picture books, sing songs, or tell your own stories to your children.

I know it can be hard to fit everything into your busy day when you have a young family. Here are 10 great reasons why reading should be a priority in your home:

1. Children who read or get read to, will get better at it. After all, practice makes perfect in almost everything we do, and reading in no different.

2. Reading exercises their brains. Reading is a much more complex task for our brain than watching TV, for example. Reading strengthens brains connections and builds new connections.

3. Reading improves concentration. Children have to sit still and quietly so that they can focus on the story when they are reading. If they read often, they will develop the skill to do this for longer.

4. Reading teaches children about the world around them. Through reading a variety of books children learn about people, places, and events outside of their own experience.

5. Reading improves vocabulary and language skills. Children learn new words as they read. Subconsciously, they absorb information on how to structure sentences and how to use words and other language features effectively in their writing and speaking.

6. Reading develops a child’s imagination. As we read our brains translate what we read into pictures. While we listen to a story we are also imagining how a character is feeling. Children then bring this into their everyday play.

7. Reading helps children to develop empathy. As children develop they begin to imagine how they would feel in that situation.

8. Reading is a fun. A book doesn’t take up much space and is light to carry. You can take books with you anywhere so your child can’t complain of having nothing to do!

9. Reading is a great way to spend time together. Reading together on the sofa, bedtimes stories and visiting the library are some great ways of spending time together.

10. Children who read achieve better in school. Reading promotes achievement in all subjects, not just English.

Try to choose books or stories that are the right length for your child and match their interests. If the book is too old or too young for them they just won’t engage. Also don’t read too many scary books before bedtime. This might cause unnecessary sleep troubles like nightmares and wake ups overnight.

Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.

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