Reading is Critical for Child Development

Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. “If you want your children to be intelligent,” he said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand. Reading to a child has its own rewards for the reader, precious moments shared with a loved one. For the child being read to the benefits are numerous: bonding to the reader; exposure to early language skills through vowels, consonants and syllables; cognitive stimulation from the colors, textures and sounds in books which helps to accelerate mental growth; more restful sleep with soothing and comforting activity before bed; healthy expression and communication through exposure to engaging, interactive reading experiences, making the child better equipped to relate to those around him and to process his own emotions. Reading to a child can be started very early. During the seventh month of fetal development hearing is possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended early reading to a child when it became recognized that an important part of the brain develops within the first three years of a child’s life. A child’s brain develops faster from birth to age 3 than at any other point in their life. According to child development experts, the more you read to your child the more you help the neurons in this region grow and connect in a way that will benefit the child in the future in reading. Reading to children enhances vocabulary and important communication skills in toddlers and older children. From ages 2-5 the benefits are: stronger relationship with the reader; academic excellence; basic speech skills; the basics of how to read a book; better communication skills; mastery of language; more logical thinking skills; acclimation of new experiences; enhanced concentration and discipline; knowledge that reading is fun. Our public libraries promote reading to children with story hours available to all. And, wonderful collections of children’s books that can be checked out with a library card. Library cards are free. September is library card sign up month! Visit your local library.