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You guys have heard me mention many times how important books are in my kids’ lives. From the time I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I started gathering books for her. I also kept most of my childhood books. So between the books I’ve gotten for my little ones, the books they’ve been given by friends and family, and my own childhood books, they have quite the library, and we spend a lot of time reading together. Both my kids also love going to the library for story time, and have books read to them everyday at preschool. I even got to go read a book to my daughter’s preschool class earlier this week in honor of the upcoming 115th birthday of author Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss!), which I absolutely cherished. We love our books!
While it’s common knowledge that books are good for kids’ brains, I had no idea until recently just how beneficial it can be to read to our children, even before they can read themselves. From different studies I’ve come across to discussions with my kids’ teachers, I’ve discovered so much about how reading to little ones helps them learn and grow. I’ve also learned that while electronic books and apps that encourage kids to read independently can be fun, there is no replacement for adults actually reading to children.
With this Saturday (March 2nd) being the birthday of Dr. Seuss, one of my little ones’ and my all time favorite authors, I thought I’d share some of the benefits to reading to our kids, while also sharing some of our most loved Dr. Seuss books.
1. Reading to young children teaches them about the world around them.
My son started speaking later than my daughter, but when we pulled out books, he would immediately point out objects he recognized from life like cars, balls, airplanes, animals, etc., and attempt to name them. In turn, he would see images in books and then recognize them in the world. There is little better than seeing the overjoyed reactions of a toddler recognizing things in daily life that he or she learned about in a book!
2. Reading to children increases their vocabulary and helps with speech and language.
As I mentioned in #1 above, reading to my son really helped his speech take off. Listening to a book being read helps children not only learn new words, but also learn about sentence structure and other aspects of language. Books like “The Cat In the Hat” and “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss that use rhyming, repetition, and rhythm are especially great for helping to learn phonics and develop language skills.
3. Reading to children helps develop their imaginations.
You’ll notice that when you read a book, your brain creates images of people, places, events, etc. This same creative imagination exists in a child’s brain when you read to him or her. I notice after I read a book to my daughter, she’ll act out scenes from the book with her toys. It is incredible to watch how she interprets what was read to her. This is another reason I love Dr. Seuss books – the stories are so wonderfully full of fantasy and imagination, which encourages kids to think creatively. “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” is one of our favorites for showing children that their imaginations have endless possibilities.
4. Reading to children teaches them important life lessons.
Young children haven’t had a great deal of life experience, but reading books to them can help them learn about some of life’s greatest lessons. My daughter took a huge interest in the earth and environmentalism after reading Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax.” “Horton Hears A Who!” has been wonderful for teaching my kids that “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” And “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” is a life-long favorite of mine for talking about the journey of life and the challenges and triumphs that come with it.
5. Reading to children helps them learn about feelings and develop empathy.
I have noticed firsthand that my kids have learned more about different feelings and understanding the feelings of others from books than anywhere else. When we read to them, we take time to discuss the characters’ feelings as well, which has helped them to understand the importance of empathy and compassion.
6. Reading to children helps motivate them to read independently.
According to Reading Is Fundamental, reading aloud to kids lets parents and teachers be role models for reading, which in turn makes kids want to read too. When a child sees an adult excited about reading, he or she feels excited as well, and thus more motivated to learn to read. My preschool aged daughter is already beginning to read on her own, and has such great enthusiasm as she practices. She says she wants to be able to read books to her little brother and to her friends, just like mommy and daddy read to her.
I also think it’s important to note that in addition to the developmental benefits children reap as a result of us reading to them, it’s beneficial for us as adults too! Reading to my kids is one of my most beloved bonding experiences. I cherish having that time together where we’re all engaged, and it also brings back fond memories of my own childhood. I can’t wait to snuggle up for Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2nd and read “The Lorax” and “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” with my babes. The best! There will also be free reading events to commemorate Dr. Seuss’s birthday this Saturday at Target stores throughout the United States. Visit here for more info.
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! You may no longer be with us, but I’m so grateful that your legacy lives on through the hundreds of books you wrote.