Reading to your children from an early age helps them become and stay interested in reading throughout their life. Research shows that children who enjoy reading tend to do better in school and have more employment opportunities as adults! Children often become interested in reading by watching and copying their parents or participating in child-parent reading routines.
Reading and telling stories to your children is not just good for them, it is fun too. It provides a positive way to stay involved in your children’s lives and creates memories to share with them as they get older. Taking the time to read a story out loud can even be relaxing for you! It’s never too early to start reading with your child.
Here are some quick tips to try when reading with your child.
Tips & Best Practices
- Start Reading Together Early. Zero to Three provides tips for how to share books with babies and toddlers to build a love of book-reading and to nurture a lifelong love of books.
- Choose Colorful Books and Use Emotion in Your Voice. Reading Rockets Start with a Book includes a list of resources on selecting books, tips on reading aloud and how to make reading more exciting.
- When reading with young children who are still learning to read, move your finger along with the words as you read. This will help them follow along and start to recognize letter and sound combinations.
- Ask Your Child Questions. Help your preschool age children develop critical thinking skills by asking open ended questions about the story being read. Ask questions such as “What do you think will happen if…” or “Why do you think they…”
- Keep reading with your child. Children can still enjoy reading with you, even when they have learned how to read. With older kids, take a look at their school reading list and read along with them. Every time you come to the end of a chapter or section, talk about it together. Listen to what they thought, and share some thoughts of your own.
Fathers can play an important role in promoting early learning and literacy. Unfortunately, as some colleagues and I discussed in a  NRFC webinar, not all dads realize this or know how to go about it. Fatherhood programs can help fathers understand the benefits of early literacy skills for their children, demonstrate ways to make reading fun, and show how engaging in literacy-related activities together can cement bonds between fathers and their children.
Why is reading to my young children so important?
When parents talk, read, and sing with their babies and toddlers, connections are formed in their young brains. These connections build language, literacy, and social–emotional skills at an important time in a young child’s development. These activities strengthen the bond between you and your child. Pediatricians encourage parents to start reading with their babies from an early age.
I am not a very strong reader. How can I promote reading in my children?
Some fathers feel like they are not strong readers. Don’t stress about that! The most important thing is that you spend time with your child talking, reading, and singing. When you look at books with your child, talk about the pictures in books and make up or act out stories based on the pictures. Talking with your children about the items around them, such as in their home, at the store, and while traveling, also helps build early literacy. Telling stories and singing songs are literacy-building activities too.
Where can I find more information about reading to my child?
The NRFC Tips for Dads: The Benefits of Reading to Your Children provides additional information, tips and resources for reading with your child, including information about selecting the right books for your child’s age.