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The Unexpected Benefits of Reading to Your Kids

The Unexpected Benefits of Reading to Your Kids

The statement “you should read to your child” isn’t one many people would contradict. There are lots of obvious reasons that reading to children is a good idea. (We’ve already talked about the magical benefits of reading.) 

The incredible thing about reading, though, is it can have effects on kids that seem truly magical. 

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While some benefits seem straight forward, here is a list of reasons you should read to your child that will reap some unexpected benefits. 

Being Surrounded by Books Makes a Difference

Did you know that simply having books in your house can positively affect your kids? In a survey that involved more than 160,000 adults across 31 countries, researchers found that people who grew up with larger home libraries had higher proficiencies in literacy, numeracy, and using technology to communicate with other people. 

And here’s the magical part. Those same researchers compared adults who grew up with small home libraries but went on to obtain a university degree with adults who grew up surrounded by books but never graduated from high school. The study found that the literacy levels of both people were roughly average. Just having books around and making reading readily available to children filled in the literacy gap equivalent to years of schooling.

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So, how many books are we talking about? The study shows literacy levels seem to take off with at least 80 books in a home and don’t seem to raise any more after 350.

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We’re never going to tell parents to stop visiting their community library. But the next time you hear of a book sale or if someone asks what to get your child for their birthday, consider growing your own home library. It seems to really make a difference. 

Understanding “Real” vs “Make-Believe”

Books introduce kids to the world around them as well as fictional worlds. Having both in their life is important. That’s because a healthy literary diet of fiction and nonfiction books can help guide them through the process of understanding what around them is real and what is make-believe. 

Up to a certain age, everything will be real to them. And that’s normal! Expecting them to know what’s fictitious and what’s real isn’t realistic under the age of 3. Not until they are preschoolers do kids start to think, “Oh wait, that’s not real.”

Books will help them along that process. The characters and stories they read about will start to find their way into a child’s imaginary play. Don’t be surprised if your child’s next imaginary friend is the hero from their favorite book. 

Social, Emotional & Life Lessons

There’s no way, as a parent, you can think of every possible topic to talk about with your preschooler. And even if you could … what would you say about each one? 

Thank goodness for books!

Walk into the children’s section of any library, and you’ll find a book on almost any topic you can think of. From the fun and hilarious to the serious and sad, books can give you the perfect opportunity to introduce your child to themes that help develop them socially and emotionally. Here are some of examples.

  • When a trip to the dentist starts to become anxiety inducing, you can bring up how the book your child just read about dentists said it only hurt for a little bit, the dentist was really nice, and they got to sit in a giant moving chair. Not only will it give them an example of a child who was brave, it will help you find the best words to describe the experience.
  • If your child’s pet dies or runs away, there are books that can walk them through the grieving process. It shows them it’s okay to be sad and that they’ll feel better eventually. Once again, it will give you the words to use to help explain a big emotion to your little person and how to deal with it. 
  • Reading a book about what to do when encountering a bully shows kids how to deal with the situation, explains that certain behaviors are unkind, and expresses that they are worthy of kindness and respect. 
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As a parent, you’ll probably be surprised at when different stories will come in handy. The lessons they teach may spring into your mind at a key moment when your child has a question or is seeking your help on an issue. That’s why reading together is so important. You learn the lessons of the story, too!

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Books are valuable in a lot of clear-cut ways. But if your home library could do with some expanding, use this as an excuse to go buy books for your kids. It will open up their minds in ways you could have never predicted. 

Grab your family, go to your local bookstore, and start building their own collection. Then sit back and watch as the stories they read start transforming their life and yours. 

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