17 Tips for Reading to Your Children + the Benefits

Benefits of reading to your children

Why should I care about reading to my children?

If you love reading like I do, you understand how rewarding it can be. Reading by yourself, reading to others, and being read to can all be exciting and fun--if done correctly. Giving your children a love for reading is giving them an advantage in all other areas of learning. However, there is more to reading to your children than just saying the words. I put together a newsletter for parents based on research to encourage them to read to their children. It explains the benefits of doing so, as well as how exactly they should be reading to their children. I truly believe that starting to read to your children as early as infancy gives them a head start at learning to read and write, and it also gives them many advantages when they get to school. [See the process of becoming a reader here]. So whether you are a parent or a teacher, here are some tips and benefits for reading to children.

Why should I read to my child? Isn’t that their teacher’s job?

  • Learning to read begins before the child enters school. Waiting until they start school is too late.
  • The foundations of learning to read are set up by age one. By this time, they will have learned all the sounds that make up their native language. They learn these things by hearing
  • talking, songs, and the rhythms and repetitions of rhymes and stories.
  • Reading aloud to children early helps develop their speaking skills.
  • Reading to children and talking about what we are reading helps to sharpen their brains.
  • Words are essential to building connections in the brain. The more language a child experiences, the better off they will be socially and educationally.
  • Television talks to children, but does not give children a chance to engage in conversation, which is essential to learning.
  • Time spent reading together is quality bonding time between parents and their children.
  • Reading books together provides opportunities for private language and inside jokes.
  • Reading to an infant is lulling and soothes them.
  • Reading to a child helps develop their patience and listening skills.
  • This is the best way to create a love and appreciation for reading as the child grows older.
  • You can take a book anywhere: doctors’ offices, car rides, etc.
  • Children will begin to use the vocabulary from the stories in their own everyday language (speaking and writing).
  • Children who have a love for
  • stories,
    have a better attitude towards learning to read.
  • Babies who watch how parents read, learn the subtleties and nuances of reading earlier.
  • Research shows that if children have eight nursery rhymes memorized by the time they are four years old, then when they are eight years old they are typically one of the best readers in their class.
  • Books are a portal to other parts of the world.
  • The more children read or are read to, then the more knowledge they will have.
  • Descriptive books without pictures, such as fairy tales, allow children to expand their imaginations.
  • Best time to start reading is the day your child is born. If your child is already older, you can start right away.
  • Need more proof? Here are Six Research Proven Reasons to Read Fiction Everyday (yes, even as an adult).

But how do I read to my child? I don’t have any experience.

  1. Create a ritual. Read in the same comfy place at the same time every night. Children feel comforted by predictability and routines. You can also read anytime in addition to your ritual time.
  2. Ideally, read three books a day. Choose one favorite, one familiar, and one new book.
  3. Repeating children’s favorite stories help diminish the scariness of books.
  4. The more you read a book to a child, the more confident they will be in knowing how to correctly read the story.
  5. Find reading opportunities throughout the day. Look for signs, cereal boxes, magazines, etc. Just be sure to engage the child in conversation about what they are reading.
  6. Play spontaneous games while reading (i.e. finding rhyming words, rearranging letters in words, etc.).
  7. Be very expressive and enthusiastic while reading. Change the tone of your voice for different characters, and take dramatic pauses.
  8. Make sure to never read a book in a patronizing voice. You should not talk down to children.
  9. Make the first line of the book the most exciting to capture the child’s attention.
  10. It is very important to perfect the last line of the book (even practice it beforehand). Badly read endings can ruin the whole book.
  11. Use a slow voice in the darkest moments in the book.
  12. Use a fast voice for exciting and dramatic moments in the book.
  13. Use a low voice for scary parts in the book.
  14. Use pauses for dramatic mood shifts in the book.
  15. If a child is stuck on a certain word, then tell them what the word is so the meaning of the overall sentence is not lost.
  16. It is important to have fathers (or another male role model) read to the children as well.
  17. Have a dog? Check out this bonus tip: The Magic Combination of Books and Dogs. 

Ok, so what should I read to my child?

Ages 0-2:

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar By: Eric Carle
  2. Press Here By: Herve Tullet
  3. Love You Forever By:Robert N. Munsch
  4. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What… By: Bill Martin Jr.

Ages 3-5:

  1. Green Eggs and Ham By: Dr. Seuss
  2. The Rainbow Fish By: Marcus Pfister Herbert
  3. Where the Wild Things Are By: Maurice Sendak
  4. Harold and the Purple Crayon By: Crockett Johnson

Ages 6-8:

  1. The Giving Tree By: Shel Silverstein
  2. Magic Tree House Series By: Mary Pope Osborne
  3. Frog and Toad Series By: Arnold Lobel
  4. Junie B. Jones Series By: Barbara Park

Ages 9-12:

  1. Harry Potter Series By: J.K. Rowling
  2. The City of Ember By: Jeanne DuPrau
  3. Island of the Blue Dolphins By: Scott O’Dell
  4. The Tale of Despereaux By: Katie DiCamillo

Here are some more of my favorite children's books.

  1. Absolutely Truly | Heather Vogel Frederick
  2. Rain Reign | Ann M. Martin
  3. Tuck Everlasting | Natalie Babbitt
  4. The Year of Billy Miller | Kevin Henkes
  5. El Deafo | Cece Bell

Where can I find additional resources?

Fox, M. (2008). Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Graves, M.F. (2011). Teaching Reading in the 21st Century (5th ed.). Columbus: Pearson Education.

Hear examples of reading aloud:

Mem Fox

See the actual newsletter:

Library Newsletter

**Disclaimer: Feel free to use parts of my newsletter, but give credit back to me as a resource.**

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Do you agree? Disagree?