Rising Voices Award winner badge.

Why reading to kids is so important

Sep 3, 2020 7:48 PM

Photo Essays

Reading is fundamental within a child’s life! It’s important to introduce them to books of all sizes at a young age. If they read picture books with ease, move them on to smaller chapter books and so forth. Children who are read to by a family member at least three times are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% of students in reading compared to children who are read to less than 3 times a week.

According to the Literacy Project Foundation, “Children exposed to fewer colors, less touch, little interaction with adults, fewer sights and sounds, and less language, actually have smaller brains.” Open a book and read to your child. As their vocabulary builds, you’ll see that reading to them helps so much more in the long run.

When you introduce books to children, let them pick what they want to read. I got to pick what I wanted to read every time, and while it makes it a little difficult to read books that are assigned to me, I know what I like. Students who choose what they read and have an informal environment in which to read tend to be more motivated, read more and show greater language and literacy development.

Statistics support the idea that developing literacy skills is important for more than just grades, and many Americans do not have these skills:

  • Currently, 45 million Americans are functionally illiterate and cannot read above a fifth-grade level
  • 50% of adults cannot read and fully understand a book written at an eighth-grade level
  • 57% of students failed the California Standards Test in English
  • 85% of juvenile offenders have difficulties with reading comprehension

If you don’t think that your child is ready to start reading on their own, start teaching them how to write. Help them make a connection between the words that they write and the words in the book. That cracks the reading code and opens their writing skills to so many new words.

I read from a young age and caught on quickly, and now reading and writing are two things that I’m passionate about. Had I not been reading from a young age, I wouldn’t be here writing for a newspaper. By seeing a child's writing, you can assess their reading skills.

You don’t have to read chapter books or show photo books to children, either. Poetry is my favorite thing to write although it can be quite difficult sometimes. According to Carmel Preschool, “Poetry will enable your child to understand patterns, which lead to sequences, and sentence structure. This type of sequencing helps the brain to process and retain information, which can be beneficial later in life with academic subjects such as math and foreign language.” So, you see, reading creates a domino effect of benefits that help your child in all parts of life.

Personally, reading got me a lot of classroom credit when I was younger. Having the ability to read at a higher level than what’s expected is a huge feeling of accomplishment for a student. Your classmates become aware of your monumental feat accomplished during the reading test and next thing you know, you're the talk of the class. You climb ranks within the class and soon you’re the go to person when someone needs help with writing or reading something and everyone wants to be your partner.

Keep the books that you and your child enjoyed. Encourage others to read books that make you think and use language that makes you re-read something two or three times. Books that truly made you think and feel something leave a lasting mark on you; they make you imagine and dream bigger. That’s my own personal experience though, you’ll have to see for yourself.