Reading to children when they are young has consistently been linked as one of the biggest predictors of academic success so it is worth our while to do it right!
Study after study has linked the benefits of reading to children from birth as one of the biggest indicators of their success in school and their own ability to read and comprehend.
Check out this small excerpt from The Child Trends Data Bank, which cites numerous studies showing just how much of an impact reading can have on a child's neurological development:
"Children develop literacy skills and an awareness of language long before they are able to read. Since language development is fundamental to all areas of learning, skills developed early in life can help set the stage for later school success. By reading aloud to their young children, parents help them acquire the skills they will need to be ready for school."
And yet, despite how much we as parents know, I wonder how many of us are making at least some of these 5 mistakes when reading to your child.
So what should "reading" to your young child look like to really help them learn?
5 Hidden Ways You Are Ruining Your Child's Love Of Reading
1. Stop Thinking Every Page Has To Be "Read"
With my oldest, I would sit down to read and had these expectations that I needed to read every page and she would patiently wait on me. (Insert loud laugh here). Ah, the crazy expectations you have with your first born!
Young children don't "read" like this. They don't have a lot of patience and they don't care if you miss 5 consecutive pages.
You are not reading to them to tell a story necessarily - but to expose them to words, cadence and the fact that books are fun.
2. YOU Don't Have To Always Be The One Who "Reads"
This reading thing isn't just for you to read to them.
From the time my youngest could grasp a book, she would love to get a stack of books and just "read." In the beginning, she would just mumble and turn pages while holding the book upside down.
Then, as her vocabulary grew, she would sit for 30 minutes just reading books. The story was nonsense but there were lots of words and inflection and examining pictures to figure out just what was happening.
3. Don't Set A Limit On Books At Story Time
I know it's almost disheartening to see your 2 year old bring you 10 books when you said you would read ONE bedtime story. But as much as your schedule allows, please don't discourage them!
One, it gives your little one a sense of control - "Hey, I get to decide how many books we read tonight...SCORE!"
And two, it shows your child that you love books as much as she does.
No one said that you have to read every.single.page (see #1) So indulge your child whenever and wherever you can!
4. Read Their Favorite Book A GAZILLION Times
With my older daughter, I thought there is no way I can read "I Love You Stinky Face" one more time, so I would grab other books instead.
But she kept coming back to THAT ONE and insisting we read it...and I'm so glad I gave in. Their favorites are their favorites for a reason. Maybe it's the pictures or the colors or the rhymes.
Or maybe it's just the way you read it to them.
Either way, these books help extend a toddler's attention span and build enthusiasm for reading because they know the story word for word.
5. Buy Books You Don't Mind Replacing
We are talking about babies and toddlers here...expect ripped pages and pen mark and crayons. You'll find slobbery spines and works of art.
And you need to be okay with that - they will learn soon enough, but until then, buy board books and cheap versions so they can really be "their" books.