Early childhood experts and other professionals agree that reading to your child for at least 20 minutes each day is one of the most important things you can do for him or her.
Being read to and reading to themselves gives children self confidence, improves language skills, and opens the door to a world of ideas and imagination.
Good readers do better in school than children with poor reading abilities. The latter suffer and, if they never catch up, are handicapped their entire lives. And, best of all, reading aloud is fun for both the child and the adult reader!
Even babies as young as six months benefit from being read to. While talking to infants is as valuable as reading to them for language development, exposing babies to books during the day, every day, gives them an early sense of them as something pleasurable.
Don't expect babies to sit still for a story. Some will, but others will show more interest in putting the book in their mouth, turning the pages, and flinging it on the floor.
Be flexible during these years. Have piles of sturdy, colorful board books as accessible as toys -- or more accessible. Read a page or two when you can. Look at pictures at other times.
For young children, storytime is comforting, reassuring and requires your full attention. Children quickly realize that reading time is "their time."
Encourage reading whenever you can. Make it part of the bedtime ritual. Read during quiet times during the day. It's a great way to engage children when they are tired or over-excited.
The soft, modulating voice patterns of your voice when you read are both soothing and stimulating. Children respond to these differently than to conversation. Both are crucial to learning and language.
Reading aloud is a time to sit close to your children and share a story or an interest. Don't stop when your child learns to read. You'll read some great books together and enjoy warm experiences.
Let Them Read
Consider allowing older children to keep their light on a half hour after bedtime as long as they read. This should be pleasurable -- don't dictate the material. It can be comics, magazines, a beloved book, or poems. It's a good idea to stay away from tablets for this nighttime ritual because your kids could be tempted by games and other Internet goodies.
When kids travel, make packing books and magazines as routine as packing a treasured stuffed animal or game.
Suggest some of the books you enjoyed as a child to your kids. Tell them why you liked them.
Be a Role Model
Let your children see you reading books, newspapers and magazines. Talk enthusiastically about what you read.
Visit libraries and bookstores regularly with the kids. Borrow, buy and download books. Fill the house with reading material.
On birthdays and holidays, make books special gifts -- never give the impression they are "boring presents." What could be more gratifying than a good read?