Boosting creativity. Important life lessons. And forging special bonds. As Mr Stephen King said: “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

Hmm, did he and Ms J.K. Rowling go to the same school?

Probably not, a love of books and stories is rather universal. And the best part: everyone seems to discover their own special version of magic inside two covers…

Take Astrophysicist Carl Sagan, for example, who said: “What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it, and you’re inside the mind of another person…”

Compared with billionaire Oprah Winfrey: “Books showed me there were possibilities in life, that there were actually people like me living in a world I could not only aspire to but attain. Reading gave me hope. For me, it was the open door.”

No wonder then that people say it’s so important – not to mention incredibly FUN! – to read together with your little ones.

But what exactly are the benefits of reading to your child? How does it boost development? Should you read every night? And should you read aloud? Let’s discover some of the research behind why reading together is a good thing…

Why is reading important for everyone? (in general)

People who love reading will tell you about the immense sense of relief and bliss that comes from just preparing to curl up with good book. That’s because it induces the brain to release some nice endorphins.

But are there any benefits beyond enjoyment? Science says yes.

This 2013 study used MRI scans to show how reading increases brain activity, both short and long term. While another study shows how reading develops one's ability to empathize with others over time.

More research shows that reading helps reduce stress and can help you get a better night’s sleep. (Some research even shows reading can prevent cognitive decline with age and even help you live longer.)

So, in general, it’s good to have a love of reading. And, you know us, we believe that’s best instilled from a young age…

8 Benefits of reading to your child 

This is how reading to your child (and later on reading together), positively affects child development:

1. It helps you bond

Reading allows for a quiet, calming way to connect and share – even if at the end of a very stressful day. Researchers in 2008 found that, among other benefits, reading aloud to your child strengthens your relationship.

Discover how books encourage connection with our children.

2. It boosts their brain development

Separate studies showed that babies who are read to develop language skills faster, and that those benefits extends right through childhood all the way up to their teen years.

3. It unlocks your child’s creativity

Stories work on multiple levels: you have characters, their needs, fears and emotions. You have scenes and a complex surrounding world. Then you have things happening to and around characters. And w go along for the journey, witnessing how each character reacts and maybe even changes or meets challenges.

It’s all beautifully complex, especially if you think that the author is relaying important life information through the story. And there’s lots of evidence that this way of relaying information helps unlock and develop a child’s own creativity.

See how reading develops imagination, and 5 Ways Reading Develops Creativity.

4. Improves their listening skills

Comprehension is incredibly important in life. And, to truly understand anything, scientists say we must learn to truly listen first. And that’s what reading together helps unlock in your child – the ability to hear words and see pictures, and put it together in a meaningful way, so they can think about it critically.

See how reading improves listening skills.

5. Expands their vocabulary

Communication is an extremely important life skill – it’s how we connect with others and the world around us. And having a big vocabulary really boosts your ability to communicate. And there’s lots of research that show how reading boosts vocabulary.

6. Increases attention span

Closely related to the listening skills in point 4, child behavioural experts have noted that regular reading over time develops your child’s ability to focus and engage, as well as boosting memory retention.

Also discover how reading increases concentration and focus, and learn how reading increases attention span.

7. Teaches important life lessons

We humans thrive on simulations. We’re able to do so much more than, say, animals, because we can imagine different scenarios and play out possible outcomes before taking action. It’s a vital life skill.

And what are books other than the ultimate engaging simulation? Your child gets to engage with real-world simulations in a safe space. They get to engage with different people in new places, going through new experiences – all from the safety of their bedroom. It’s priceless.

See our collection of books about facing your fears.

8. Helps with their social and emotional development

Reading about something in a book first is a safe way to learn to cope with stressful situations. I shows your child that their feelings are normal, and can help open the discussion around what they are facing in their lives at the moment.

Check out our collection of books about ways to deal with emotions, and discover how reading develops empathy

You may also like books about character development for kids on Nooksy.

Should you read to your child every night?

Ideally, yes, but don’t force it when the situation doesn’t allow for it. See, children really thrive on a good schedule. So, a daily (or nightly) schedule of reading – before bed, for example – is comforting and healthy for them.

Should you read aloud to your child?

Yes! So much of the research above is based on your child hearing your voice as you read the story. It allows them to hear the correct speech pattern, pronunciation and rhythm of text – vital for their own reading one day.

See our feature on how to read each page with your child.

What happens if you don’t read to your child?

In short, you don’t get any of the benefits we listed above. So you don’t get to bond over a good book/story. And your child might not get the opportunity to help them develop their critical thinking, social skills, listening skills and vocabulary.

Literacy is directly linked to reading – studies show that, among impoverished communities, the literacy level is quite high.

So, if nothing else, read for bonding, literacy and your child’s healthy development.

You mighta also like: How to Get Reluctant Readers to Start Reading.

You might also be interested in…

See why it’s our job to help our kids love reading. And, get some help around how to select books for your child, as well as some helpful tips on video-calling with toddlers and a selection of child-friendly and fun things to do long-distance with family.

Find out why kids are so prone to holiday tantrums. Get into a good flow by creating a solid family reading routine. And, for faraway family, here are some ideas on how to stay connected.

Also see how reading improves school readiness and discover the importance of play.

Want to raise budding captains of industry? Take a look at our Tobey The Business Mouse book preview.

Explore awesome stories to share in our library of Nooksy impact children’s books. And discover how to make reading with faraway family super easy with the Nooksy app. Also check out all the top kids books in September, the best kids books in October, the best free kids book in November and also see the awesome selection of kids books in December and the most-read kids books in January.

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