Every child’s early reading journey starts from as young as birth and begins with being read to, rather than reading for themselves. At just a few months of age, an infant can look at pictures, listen to your voice, and point to objects on cardboard pages. Guide your child by pointing to the pictures, and say the names of the various objects. By drawing attention to pictures and associating the words with both pictures and the real-world objects, your child will learn the importance of language. 

Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice the existence of printed words on a page. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. When the rhythm and melody of language become a part of a child's life, learning to read will be as natural as learning to walk and talk. 

Even after children learn to read by themselves, it's still important for you to read aloud together. By reading stories that are on their interest level, but beyond their reading level, you can stretch young readers' understanding and motivate them to improve their skills. 

You don’t have to read stories though. Of course, non-fiction books, poem, rhymes, comics or even newspapers can be shared together. However, there is evidence to show that reading fiction to your child will have the most impact on their future reading attainment compared to other text types; this is known as ‘The Fiction Effect’. Below are some statements to show the impact of reading to your child. 

  • Reading to children at age 4-5 every day has a significant positive effect on their reading skills and cognitive skills (i.e., language and literacy, numeracy and cognition) later in life.  
  • Reading to children 3-5 days per week (compared to 2 or less) has the same effect on the child’s reading skills at age 4-5 as being six months older.  
  • Reading to them 6-7 days per week has the same effect as being almost 12 months older.  
  • These differences in reading and cognitive skills are not related to the child’s family background or home environment but are the direct result of how frequently they have been read to prior to starting school. 

We need to demonstrate a love of reading to our children. When your child observes that you love to read, they’re more likely to develop a love of reading themselves. Pointing out the purpose of reading, such as when reading a book, a recipe, an instruction manual or even a road sign, will inspire your child and help to motivate them. 

Please follow the link below to watch a helpful video with 10 things to think about when reading to your child.