Reading Stories to Children: Fostering the Love of Reading Among Pre-Schoolers
Bedtime story telling is more than just the traditional bonding period between parents and their children. Research shows significant correlations between parents’ reading of stories to their children to pre-schoolers’ development of literacy. The sad fact is less than half of American parents actually spend a few minutes at night to read to their children. It might be the parents are just too busy. It may also be because they do not see the value this activity can bring in helping their children academically later on.
While it may seem that young children are just passive listeners when being read to, they are actually observing and unconsciously learning a lot of skills. During story-telling time, they learn how to hold a book and how to turn the pages of the book. They become aware that stories have titles. They develop the ability to match pictures with words. They notice that reading is done from left to right, and from top to bottom. Later on, they start to recognize letters and words.
Small children unconsciously absorb all of these skills when their parents read to them at home. These actually give children an edge when they start going to school.
Reading stories to children also helps them develop their listening skills. Children who were not read to at home by their parents do not have the sense of anticipation for stories that seem evident among their more literacy-ready counterparts. Though it is highly possible that children’s inability to sit attentively may be due to other factors, it could also be that they do not have prior experiences concerning the fun and enjoyment of having had story telling activities with their parents.
Another important benefit of reading to children is their acquisition of a much larger vocabulary than what they would encounter in ordinary conversations at home. Reading aloud to children exposes them to new vocabulary, especially from non-fiction books. They acquire an ear for language patterns, sentence structures and choice of words by listening to stories. This is especially true when they repeatedly read a favorite story.
Reading to children opens up their minds to information beyond their everyday experiences. They get to learn about different places, different peoples and different subject matters. Just as reading continues to nurture the minds of adults, it also provides children with rich sources of information.
Lastly, children, who benefited from being read to by their parents at home, develop a lifelong love for reading. Because they have acquired the necessary pre-literacy skills at home, they do not struggle with reading when they start their formal schooling. They see reading as an enjoyable activity, and not as a dreary task such as what happens with struggling readers. They know the value of reading because they have personally seen their parents read books to them, and have developed a natural interest in acquiring the same skills that their parents possessed.
Do your kids a favor by reading to them a few minutes a day. It can make all the difference later on in their academic life.
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