Reading To Your Kids Early Has Benefits That Last a Lifetime

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Jude T. Cauwenbergh, DO
Jude T. Cauwenbergh, DO

If you’ve ever begged for just one more bedtime story, you know how wonderful a book can be. And when it comes to reading to your kids, it’s never too early to start.

While reading to an infant, you might wonder how much they can understand. They may not know exactly what you’re saying yet, but this is the time when their brains are quickly developing. The first few years set the stage for the rest of their lives – and reading is an important part of that.

Why? It strengthens their language skills, even when they’re little. It also helps with the following:

  • Introducing new and more complex vocabulary
  • Visualizing images
  • Understanding stories

Kids And Parents Win

As babies grow into toddlers and beyond, reading is a window into another world. Through books, they can learn about what it’s like in other places. Down the road, an early foundation of reading leads to greater success in school.

But the benefits don’t stop there. A recent study in Pediatrics found that reading books to kids when they’re young can improve their social and behavioral skills. That means greater emotional well-being and a higher quality of life.

There’s even more good news: Reading to kids is helpful for parents, too. It strengthens the bond between a parent and child. It can even help reduce a parent’s stress and depression.

What To Read When

Wondering what books will work best for your kids? Here are some ideas from Jude T. Cauwenbergh, DO, a pediatrician with UH Rainbow Madison Pediatrics, based on your child’s age:

  • 12 months and younger: Thick cardboard books are good for babies, who like to put things in their mouths. Look for a size they can hold.
  • 1 – 2 years: Now is a great time to read books with sounds in them. You can also ask your child simple questions about what’s happening in the stories.
  • 1 – 3 years: This can be a good time to maintain a bedtime reading routine.
    Reading familiar books can help children ease into sleep.

Dr. Cauwenbergh adds, “Keep reading aloud to your kids, even after they can read for themselves. It’s a few minutes a day that you have together. Try different types of books, like nursery rhymes, fairy tales, mysteries and poetry. Always keep it fun so that children don’t think of reading as a chore. Sometimes that means reading the same book over and over again, if that’s what your child picks!”

Related Links

Learn about UH Rainbow's wide array of pediatric services, from urgent and emergency care to treatments.

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