I used to remember when we were little, my mom and dad used to read me fairy tales and short stories from hand me down books from our neighbors and relatives. We do have few books in the house but the copies are limited. I grew up reading Reader’s Digest and borrowing Encyclopedia from our neighbors. Eventually when I was already in elementary and high school, my mom used to bring us to Glorietta in Makati in the 90’s. For us to behave while my mom is doing errands she asks us what stuff we want to buy. We can choose from school supplies, toys, shoes, arcade rides at Glicos and books. Since I love visiting National Bookstore and Goodwill bookstores in Makati, I always ask for books. My mom would give me and my sister 50 pesos each and we would start to scour through bargain sections of National Bookstore and Goodwill for bargain of young adult books. I start to get copies of Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins, Bobbsey Twins, Baby Sitters Club and Goosebumps. Every time my dad would give me extra allowance, I saved it up to buy additional copies of books every time we visit Makati. The habit of saving up buying and reading books grew with me. Until now, I still love to visit bookstores and hunt for bargains on best seller books and general information. Even up to now that there are available E-books, I still prefer the reading hard and soft bound books.
Now that I am a mom, I want my child to grow up appreciating literary works and the joys of reading can bring in one’s life. When I was still pregnant with my baby, I would read books before going to sleep and while falling in line during long commute. When he was still few months old, I spend time reading with him and showing pictures. Though he is not yet speaking, I can see his reactions in his curious eyes, babbling coos and smiles. Now that he is already two years old and can appreciate pictures and words more, I try each day to engage him in reading books and story telling. My son loves it when there are sounds, visuals and actions while we are reading books. He loves to point on pictures and identify them one by one. He loves it when books contains numbers since he can identify each number and count each pictures associated with numbers.
As an avid reader and advocate of raising awareness on benefit of early reading to kids, I researched through articles on the subject. I found an interesting and encouraging article on Raises Smart Kid site (http://www.raisesmartkid.com/all-ages/1-articles/14-the-benefits-of-reading-to-your-child) on the benefits of reading.
When your read with your child, he derives these benefits:
- Reading to your kid makes you bond with him, and this gives your child a sense of intimacy and well-being. This feeling of intimacy will not only make your child feel close to you, the feeling of being loved and getting attention also helps him to grow smart.
- The intimacy of reading to your kid is such a pleasurable experience to him that he will have a positive attitude towards reading as he grows up.
- It calms your child, especially when he is fretful and restless.
- It promotes increased communication between you and your child.
- Preschool children who are exposed to language by hearing words that are read to him and in conversation tend to do well in school.
- Many studies show that students who love learning and do well in school were exposed to reading before preschool.
- Your baby learns early the basics of reading a book, that words represent sounds and concepts, words are read from left to write, and stories continue when you flip the page.
- It promotes longer attention span, which is an important skill for your kid to be able to concentrate.
- It builds listening skills and imagination.
- Your young child learns about colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, while your older child discovers an expanding chain of knowledge. His interest in cars, for example, will expand to his interest in trucks, and other transportation like planes and rockets, and soon he will be reading about outer space, science and technology, and so forth.
- A study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in January 2013 concluded that “reading to a child in an interactive style raises his or her IQ by over 6 points.”
- Books teach your child thinking skills early. When you read to your child, he learns to understand cause and effect, he learns to exercise logic, as well as think in abstract terms. He learns the consequences of actions, and the basics of what is right and wrong.
- Books teach your child about relationships, situations, personalities, and what is good and what is bad in the world he lives in. Fantasy books provide material for his imagination and free play. Fairy tales fascinate your kid, and help him distinguish between what is real and what is not.
- When your child reaches a new stage in his growth, or experiences a new and unfamiliar situation, reading to your child about a story relevant to his new experience can relieve his anxiety and help him cope. For example, if your child is stressed about his first day in school, or about moving to a new location, you can read a book to him that shows that these should not be painful experiences.
Your child learns early that reading is fun and not a chore. When your child grows up, you will not be stressed about getting him to read, as reading has become, for him, a pleasurable habit.
In addition the article provided additional encouragement for parents to read to their kids:
Apply techniques for reading to children to make it interactive, thought-provoking, exciting, and educational.
Make your child an active participant in the reading.
Also, use age-appropriate strategies on reading to your child. Reading to your kids with different ages presents new opportunities and challenges.
Since your kid imitates your behavior, let him see you read books. Let him know that reading is a part of life!
Let your child feel that reading a book with him is a pleasurable and enjoyable experience, and not a stressful activity that you are forcing him to do.
- Form a habit of reading to him at the same time each day, or at least several times a week. Choose a time when you and your child are both relaxed and not rushed.
- Choose books that your kid will be most interested in, and appropriate for his age. A young child likes colorful drawings and pictures of people.
- To help your child understand that letters and words are symbols that are used to communicate, run your finger under the print but don’t force your child to follow your finger.
- Sometimes, your kid likes a particular book and wants to read it repeatedly. Do not discourage this, since he finds reading this book pleasurable – and pleasure is what he should get from reading! Also, he is getting the most out of this book and is giving you a hint about his interest!
- Expose your kid though to a variety of books.
- You can use reading as a way to allay your child’s fears or prepare him for changes in his life. For example, you can choose books about using the potty, going to school, or moving to a new house when he is about to have these new experiences.
- Teach your child to treasure books and treat them with respect – keeping them clean and in good condition.
- Surround your kid with books. Keep books where your kid can easily reach them so he will be able to browse them by himself.
Take books to read to your child on long trips and places where you have to wait like the doctor’s office.
Reading is a fun activity and bonding moment with parents and kids. I also encouraged my friends who are also new parents to read with their kids. Reading books need not to be an expensive hobby, my hubby and I set a budget for our baby’s books. Instead of expensive toys, we usually scoured great books from Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Little Einsteins, Sesame Street, Sandra Boynton series in Booksales and Chapters and Pages stores. My tip with parents, buy second hand books! 🙂 Most of second hand books does not cost a lot and there are lots of picture or board books you can select for your little angels.
In addition, since my son already knows how to pick books and toys, hubby and I let him choose which books he like to read when we got home but also encourage him to look at pictures and numbers. When we left for office in the morning, we left him number of books (along with his favorite toys) for him to pick up in case he wants to read or see pictures. When we got home at night we let him choose which books he wants to read. Sometimes he likes a particular books so much that we just repeat the story over and over again. Hearing his laughter while reading makes up for a tiring day from commute and work. Another reason why I pushed on reading with my son is since I am a working mom, the guilty feelings of being away with your child lessens and you established a nightly ritual before going to bed. It was a challenge for me to juggle work and parenting with my two hands but I need to look for activities that my son wouldn’t feel left out. The other night my husband and I learned that in order to lessen/avoid our son’s attachment to electronic gadgets we did a read aloud session and play with made-up stories on his toys. I think it worked, because by the time we finished our little activity he lie down and fell asleep.
Not yet convinced? Here is another article from Huffington Post on five hidden benefits of reading