Parents are usually very keen to get their children reading. It’s probably the top learning priority as the children move towards a formal learning life. And practice at it often comes at the expense of reading to them as they get older.
However reading to the children is a vital part of this process of learning to read and should continue for as long as the child wants it.
Reading to children not only helps them to see and decipher the symbols in front of them, but equally importantly brings meaning to the print through hearing it spoken and interpreted. By them listening to intonation and expression, they consequently begin to understand print through these expressions. It also stimulates imagination, helps them understand the world around them, and consequently enhances intelligence.
As well as these skills, reading to them reinforces bonds between parents and children and enhances their feelings of security, trust and support, all necessary for them to reach their educational potential.
And a new study has illustrated how that shared reading should be based as much in the use of physical books as the electronic.
The study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that parents who were using e-books to read to or with their children were less inclined to interact with them than when using physical books. These interactions would normally take the form of conversations about the story, questioning and pointing things out in the pictures, and being generally engaged with the whole experience. And it’s these interactions which can enhance reading development.
However the researchers discovered that parents interacted less with their child when using an e-book than with a physical book. And sometimes could even become tense and distracted by the technology itself, asking their child not to press buttons or screens for example, rather than focussing on the story and the shared experience of enjoying it together.
Making reading an enjoyable experience is vital to a child’s ongoing reading development.
If by reading to their child and sharing this experience of books and story parents can nurture an ongoing love of them, then children are eventually going to want to do it for themselves. Consequently they learn as much from being read to, than from being forced to read to the parent, which many are guilty of and which takes way the pleasure.
Each child comes to a readiness to read at a different time. But by continuing to read to the children as long as they want it, at whatever age, using physical books as much as any other material, we strengthen the likelihood of them doing so, along with the skills they’ll need to accomplish it.
This is why it’s so important to keep reading to them as long as possible and to make sure physical books play a big part in that shared reading experience.