Photos taken in collaboration with Ang Wei Ming
Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice the existence of printed words on a page.
A language-rich environment in the early years helps promote communication and expressive development in later years. Reading books isn’t just about entertaining the kids or getting them to fall asleep, it’s also giving them the tools they need to express themselves, what they are thinking and feeling, like or dislike.
WHY YOU SHOULD PICK UP THAT BOOK
1. It lays the foundation for literacy skills
Even if babies don’t fully understand what you are saying, reading stimulates the part of the brain that processes language. This builds the cognitive foundation they will need for speaking, reading and writing on their own in the future.
Listening to you read exposes your child to new vocabulary and phrases. Subconsciously, a baby will also gradually absorb sentence structures and how to use words and other language features effectively.
As you interact over books, you will also become more aware of your child’s language development and can adjust the way you speak according to his growing ability. Discussing stories also gives you a chance to model how to use different vocabulary and higher-level thinking skills that will be useful for processing and understanding information.
2. It does wonders for social and emotional development
Research shows that when parents and children read together, it enhances the children’s social and emotional development. When listening to you read, your child watches other characters go through emotions similar to those they experience themselves.
Through stories, children also learn about feelings, how to empathise with others and how to work through difficult situations. This equips them to relate to others and express their own emotions.
3. It’s a great bonding activity
The most important reason for reading with your child has to be how it creates a unique bond between them and you.
Bonding occurs because your child enjoys hearing the rhythm of your voice, feeling your heartbeat, and smelling your familiar scent as you snuggle together. This helps them feel more attached to you. Soon, they will associate books with a special intimate time with you and look forward to it.
Reading together is a time for both of you to share laughs, tears, and excitement the story brings with each other. You're in a world where only you, your child and the story in your hands exist.
4. It makes you a better parent
A study on over 2,000 mother-child pairs in the USA showed that mothers who read to their children frequently were less likely to be harsh with their children over the next two years.
These mums also reported that their children had less disruptive behaviour, which possibly explains why they were able to use gentler approaches to parenting with their children.
Although the life of a parent is often hectic, try to read with your child once a day at a regularly scheduled time. Of course, don't be discouraged if you skip a day or don't always keep to your schedule. Just do it as often as you can.
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