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It may seem odd to read books aloud to your brand new baby, but plenty of research has shown how important it is. Not only is reading aloud to your baby a great way to bond and spend quality time together, it is also a proven way to boost your baby’s future language development, reading skills and much more. Once you understand the impact reading aloud has on your baby, you’ll be scheduling it into your daily routine right away.
Most parents know that reading to a school-age child is an important way to improve language and reading comprehension as well as encourage a lifelong love of reading. But what many new parents don’t know is that reading aloud to babies has been shown to have a significant and lasting impact on their language development. A 2017 research study entitled “Early Reading Matters: Long-term Impacts of Shared Bookreading with Infants and Toddlers on Language and Literacy Outcomes,” revealed that book-reading in early infancy and toddlerhood predicted child vocabulary up to four years later. It also showed that book-reading quality during early infancy predicted early reading skills while during the toddler-years, book-reading quantity AND quality were closely tied to emergent literacy skills.
According to the study’s lead author and researcher Carolyn Cates, PhD, “These findings are exciting because they suggest that reading to young children, beginning even in early infancy, has a lasting effect on language, literacy and early reading skills.” She goes on to say “What they’re learning when you read with them as infants still has an effect four years later when they’re about to begin elementary school.”
Jim Trelease - author of The New York Times Bestseller “The Read-Aloud Handbook,” believes that very young children benefit greatly from parents reading aloud. He cites the results of “The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study” (which included 22,000 students) that found kindergarten children who had been read to at least three times a week had a significantly greater phonemic awareness than did children who were read to less often, and were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading readiness. Pretty compelling numbers from the simple act of reading books!
The well-known 1995 book “Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children” established a scientifically substantiated link between children's early childhood experience and their eventual intellectual growth. The authors - Hart and Risley - spent years researching the roots of intellectual disparity. They observed 1 and 2 year old children in typical American families and found staggering contrasts in the amount of interaction between parents and children. These differences translated into shocking disparities in the children's vocabulary growth rate, vocabulary use, and IQ test scores.
Clearly, reading to your baby (and toddler) can create a whole host of benefits both now and in the future; setting your child up for greater levels of success. And all it takes is just ten minutes a day.
Reading aloud to your baby has also been shown to potentially help his or her future behavior. In a compelling study, reading aloud and positive play during ages 0-5 was associated with improved behavior outcomes up to 4.5 years later. The study participants who were exposed to parents reading aloud and playing with them had more than a 60% reduction in hyperactivity and psychosocial risk. That study concluded that reading aloud and positive parental play from birth to 5 years could enhance social-emotional development.
Wondering what books are good for reading to your baby? Wunder has a library of our favorite books for you to enjoy with your baby! But truthfully, anything age-appropriate that you enjoy reading to your baby will work just fine. All that really matters is that you read aloud to your baby as soon as possible and as often as possible.