Why Reading to Your Kids is Important

Do you currently read to your kids? Much like eating together as a family, reading can build stronger bonds with your children. It’s long been documented that reading to kids also has numerous cognitive benefits. And, in turn, the cognitive advantages are beneficial to children’s psychological well-being. Reading can also improve language skills, academic performance and can help with emotional attachment. But a new study has now proven a link between reading and vocabulary as well. Bottom line is if you aren’t already reading with your toddlers, pick up a book with them ASAP! Here are some reasons why reading to your kids is important.

According to a study from the South African College of Applied Psychology, reading boosts creativity, increases empathy for others, improves mental flexibility, stimulates the brain and unlocks imagination. And while a natural outcome from reading for kids is an enhanced vocabulary, only a few studies have ever explored whether knowing more words can help children in school. Until now. A new Ohio State University study explored the relationship between children’s vocabulary and reading for little ones under 5 years old.

The study, “When Children Are Not Read to at Home” examines the “correlational and causal influences” of reading on children’s vocabulary development. And what the study found is interesting. Children whose parents read them five age-appropriate books a day (containing between 140 and 228 words, on average) enter kindergarten with a vocabulary potentially richer than their peers.  

Researchers identified the 100 most popular board and picture books. And then they randomly selected 30 from the list and counted how many words each of them contained. Picture books primarily designed for preschoolers had 140 words on average and the board books (for toddlers and infants) had roughly 228 words.

Using the word averages Ohio State University researchers calculated how many words a child would hear from birth until entering kindergarten. Researchers assumed that parents would read board books until their children were 3 years of age and picture books until 5 years old.

The results were astounding. Children whose parents read them five books or more each day hear over 1.4 million words before they ever step foot into kindergarten. And that discovery prepares young children for entering school.

“Kids who hear more vocabulary words are going to be better prepared to see those words in print when they enter school. They are likely to pick up reading skills more quickly and easily,” lead author Jessica Logan explained in a statement.

By contrast, children who are never read to hear only 4,662 words before the age of 5. And kids who have their parents read them one book a day hear 296,600 words before entering kindergarten. Children whose parents read them between three and five books a week hear 169,520 words and for only one or two books a week, they hear 63,570 words before starting school.

Simply put, the study shows that there’s a strong correlation between parents who read to their children and a young one’s development with vocabulary. “The word gap of more than 1 million words between children raised in a literacy-rich environment and those who were never read to is striking,” Logan said.

If you needed just one more reason to read to your children, this study proves it! And if your children are thriving, you will too. Parenting win!

Join the other 100,000+ new parents who love Bitsy Boxes.