Updated: Feb 27
My daughter asks me to read to her every night before bed. It’s easy, especially after a long, stressful day at work, to say, ‘honey, is it okay if I read to you tomorrow night?’ Are there any parents out there with the same mindset??
Is reading really that important? Studies have proven that reading empowers children to be the best versions of themselves. How?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, benefits of reading begin as early as infancy. In a 2014 study, ‘reading exerts a positive effect on the developing brain’ (CHAO, 2020). Reading to your children facilitates stronger bonds between caregiver and child. Additionally, reading helps your child learn valuable language and literacy skills earlier and perform better in school because they are equipped with stronger comprehension and vocab skills.
Research has also proven that by the third trimester of pregnancy, babies are ready to hear. Although their ability to hear is rated at a lower decibel than us, reading encourage language patterns before birth which allows babies to recognize words they heard in the womb once they are born. Therefore, reading during pregnancy helps your child develop literacy skills before they even know how to speak. Reading during pregnancy also helps reduce stress, strengthens bond between mom and baby and helps establish good reading habits. These are all a plus for both mom and baby!!
Astonishingly, pleasure reading for older kiddos and teens helps them develop stronger social skills, vocab and writing skills, and helps them understand and process more complex ideas. In fact, it does not just improve English and vocabulary, it expands their ability to build knowledge overall. Teens are better able to clarify their career goals and understand the consequences of risky behavior.
As people, we have the ability to sympathize with people but empathy is a learned trait. What’s the difference you ask? Sympathy allows us to feel compassion, sorrow or pity for people but empathy allows us to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and understand the emotions they are feeling. There is published research that says kiddos and teens who read fiction are better able to understand their own emotions and the emotions of others --- EMPATHY!! Let’s dig a little deeper into that thought process. Fiction books help trick the brain into thinking we are a part of the story. Have you ever ‘got lost’ in a book? By placing our mind into the book, we are able to have sympathy for the characters. This in turn helps our kiddos interact with other people, develop better ‘feeling words’ and helps them interact better with their friends and peers because they can see things from another perspective.
So, you may be asking, ‘what other benefits does reading have?’ ‘Is it good to read at bedtime?’
The answer is YES! Remember when I said that reading empowers children to be the best versions of themselves? Research has proven that CEO’s, on average, read 60 books per year!!
Benefits of reading before bedtime:
1. Reduces stress. An astonishing statistic that I came across says that reading just six minutes before bedtime can reduce your stress level by up to 68%!!!
2. Boosts brain power. Reading allows you to take in more information and introduces you to new people, thus making us smarter.
3. Improves creativity. Reading broadens your mind as you take in new worlds.
4. Better sleep. The most important benefit!! Have you ever laid in bed reading a book and catch yourself dozing off? It is likely to put you to sleep quicker.
5. Better concentration. Reading improves concentration and attention span in everyday activities. Instead of changing subjects with every email you check before bed or watching TV with various scenes and advertisements, a book sticks to a single plot for a length of time, which helps you focus on the task at hand.
6. More Empathy. Empathy has been a hot topic in this blog. Think about it though. We focus a lot on ourselves throughout the day but reading puts you in someone else’s shoes, allowing you to consider their problems, struggles and perspectives.
7. Peace and Serenity. When you’re reading, especially a topic you are interested in, you are able to tune the outside world out - even if it is just for six minutes. This offers peace and quiet.
8. Relaxing. Where is your favorite place to read? Maybe you’re cozy in your bed or on the couch? Typically, a person who reads is in a comfortable, stationary position for the length of time they read.
Okay, so we discussed the importance of reading but how do you get your child interested and in a routine habit of reading – especially when technology is taking over the world??
1. Create a reading culture at home. Making books more readily available. Try enticing your child to read books that are based off of their favorite movies or shows. Discuss book topics at the dinner table every night. Just have fun with it!! If you’re uncomfortable with your reading ability, try audio books.
2. Don’t be picky with what your child reads. As long as it is age appropriate, allow them to read what interests them. There’s no particular statistic that says fiction is better than non-fiction, or either is better than junk reading. As long as it interests and engages them, let them read it.
3. Take your child to the local library. Kiddos can get their own library card, which was exciting to me when I was a child. They can pick out their very own books and even check them out on their own. This can give them a sense of responsibility which makes it an even bigger event! Our local library hosts a story time, in which they read to the kiddos before they check out their book. They also host activities and events that empower children to read. Even teens can find interesting topics at the local library. Best of all, it’s FREE!
4. For those kiddos that are tech savvy – even though it’s better to read a paperback book over using technology due to the blue light exposure, try to engage teens to use a tablet or e-reader to read their books. Some apps allow free books.
The first week in March is ‘Read Across America Week’ and March 2, 2020 is National Read Across America Day or Dr. Seuss Day!!! In honor of this week and empowering the minds of our kiddos, the Grayson County Health Center is sponsoring a ‘Road to Reading’ event on Thursday, March 5, 2020 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. CST. Our staff feels that the benefits of reading and allowing children to have a selection of books in their home, will not only entice reading habits, but will portray the importance of reading to both child and caregiver. Hopefully, this event will be annually hence forth and will promote reading in our community.
“The Road to Reading” is a destination driven reading event for toddlers through elementary age children in our community. The fun starts Thursday, March 5th when registration begins at the Center on Main from 5:00 - 5:15 p.m. Participants will be given a free tote bag and a “road map” that includes a list of four locations to visit with a scheduled time for a read aloud at that location. We are excited that several local businesses and community partners have volunteered to be a “stop” on the Road to Reading. Free books will be given to the first 100 participants at each location. At around 6:25 p.m. families are asked to begin traveling to the last stop of the night, The Public Library, where there will be more reading, snacks and door prizes to finish up the night.
We hope you will join us for this inspiring night for young readers and their families! Check out the flyer below for more information or contact us at 270-259-3141 for more information.