Reading aloud to children has many important benefits for their development. Specifically, studies that have used brain imaging to examine brain activity of children who were being read to found much greater brain activation in those children whose parents read aloud to them more at home.
Thus, being read to enhances cognitive skills of young children. Moreover, these children also had more brain activation in the areas that process visual association, even though they were only listening to the story with no visual aids. This demonstrates how being read to develops imagination in young children who are imagining the stories they are being read.
Reading also increases children’s attention span and benefits their language development more than simply speaking because the books expose them to a more sophisticated vocabulary than conversations with adults.
Additionally, being read to allows for a more interactive experience as a reader because the child can ask and answer questions and make additional visual and imaginative associations. This is hardly surprising, knowing from decades of research that children learn better when an adult is involved.
Finally, when someone is reading aloud to you, you feel a bit like you’re given a gift of their time, of their attention, of their voice and thus reading aloud to your kids creates opportunities for a one-on-one quality time with your child, that is essential for their emotional well-being and a creation of close, trusting relationship with you.
Bridges, L. (2014) The Joy and Power of Reading: A Summary of Research and Expert Opinion. New York: Scholastic.
Hutton, J. S., Horowitz-Kraus, T., Mendelsohn, A. L., DeWitt, T., Holland, S. K., & C-Mind Authorship Consortium. (2015). Home reading environment and brain activation in preschool children listening to stories. Pediatrics, 136(3), 466-478.
Massaro, D. W. (2017). Reading aloud to children: Benefits and implications for acquiring literacy before schooling begins. American Journal of Psychology, 130(1), 63-72.
Mindell, J. A., & Williamson, A. A. (2018). Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development, and beyond. Sleep medicine reviews, 40, 93-108.