Don’t stop now: Why you should keep reading to your child as they get older

Don’t stop now: Why you should keep reading to your child as they get older

by Carly Williams
Stripes Europe

I still read to my 10-year-old son almost every night. It’s not that he’s unable to read to himself. In fact, his reading skills have always been above average for his age and grade. Likewise, I don’t read to him because he doesn’t enjoy reading himself, as there are times when I find it difficult to pry a book out of his hand! I’m fortunate that my child enjoys reading, and that he has no difficulties that impede his learning, but reading to older children is so beneficial, and this can be especially true for children who are less likely to read to themselves.

First of all, the time we spend together reading has become a special time for just the two of us. As children grow up, they become more independent and often spend a lot of their time without us- attending school, doing activities, or socializing with friends. Even when everyone is at home, often children are off doing their own thing and usually, that can involve a screen. Reading with your child allows for an important reconnection between you both, as well as opportunities for the essential physical contact, such as touching or hugging, children need every day to thrive. 

By taking the time to read to your child, you are showing them that reading has value and that it is worth that investment of time. Once children are older and have acquired the ability to read alone, it is common to send them off to do some reading for school, leaving parents free to continue with their tasks and chores. This is understandable in an increasingly busy world, but parents are role models for their children and it is critical that they convey that reading is important. Ultimately, your child will do as you do, not as you say.

When children listen to their parents read, they are developing an appreciation for the story itself as opposed to the often-difficult task of deciphering the words and finding meaning in each sentence. English subject activities in school, for example, can be tedious and often difficult; purely listening to a book for pleasure brings back the joy of story and helps to build a foundation for a life-long love of reading.

Reading to your child can also open them up to a whole world of books that they would never consider reading themselves. When another does the reading, children are more open to other genres of books. Parents can offer to read their own childhood favorites or can choose books longer or at a higher level than their child usually opts for. This exposure to a wide assortment of books is valuable for strengthening your child’s comprehension and language skills.

The one on one time that you are taking to read with your child can also lead to meaningful conversations and learning moments for you both. Book themes, storylines, characters, and even single sentences, can provoke questions or debates that help you get to know your child, and how they think, on a deeper level. Sharing stories can also help you to approach those daunting yet inevitable conversations about other more mature topics in a relaxed, open and more natural way.

Older children genuinely benefit from being read to, and their relationship with parents can be strengthened when a daily period of time is spent solely focused on them. They won’t be kids forever, and so offer to read to your child every day you can until that day they finally decide that they’re too old. Ultimately, taking those few minutes out of your day can help your child to form good habits that will follow them around as they become adults, hopefully fostering a love for reading for a lifetime.

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