It’s never too early to read to your child. While your baby may not be able to follow along with the story, just listening to your voice will provide an important head start on language development. Reading to your child can give an added boost to your baby’s cognitive abilities. Here are five reasons that reading is important for your little one’s development:

1. It creates a love of reading.

The intimate time spent with your son or daughter while reading a bedtime story will create positive associations with reading. This will build the foundation for a love of reading that will become even more important once school-age is reached. Reading allows the acquisition of new knowledge from books rather than just trying to acquire meaning from pictures alone.

2. It will make learning to read later easier.

Reading exposes your baby to a larger variety of words than one would find in everyday conversation. Researchers have found that the more words an infant is exposed to, the easier it will be to learn to read in the future.[1] With a third of children entering kindergarten without the skills needed to read,[2] it is all too important that you do your part to help decrease this deficit by ensuring your child has the necessary skills.

3. It encourages speech and language development.

During infancy, it is more important to do activities that will encourage a child’s understanding of words rather than their expression of words.[2]  But don’t worry because understanding of those words will eventually lead to expression of those words. The inflections and intonations of your voice will help engage the areas of the brain responsible for language understanding and the production and growth of neural connections.

4. It promotes parent-child bonding.

Reading is a one-on-one activity that builds a strong connection between you and your baby. Full attention is what your tot loves. A study focusing on infants in the neonatal intensive care unit found that close to 70% of the parents of those infants indicated that reading helped them feel closer to their child.[3]

5. It builds memory and vocabulary.

Reading allows children to come into contact with uncommon words, thus expanding their vocabulary beyond only words that are found in typical verbal conversations. Vocabulary and language skills have been linked to higher intelligence. Each time a baby hears a word uttered, it builds their memory and creates a stronger connection between the sound of the word, the definition of the word, and common context of the word.
Reading equips your youngster with a wide variety of skills that will be beneficial for life. It will stimulate creativity and expand imagination with fun tales of the unknown. Reading should be part of your daily routine of activities with your baby in order to bolster their learning and further develop bonding between the two of you.


[1] Hart, B., and T. R. Risley. “Promoting Productive Language through Incidental Teaching.” Education and Urban Society 10.4 (1978): 407-29.
[2] National Survey of Children’s Health 2011–2012, http://childhealthdata.org/learn/NSCH; and AAP Policy Statement, “Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice”
[3] Lariviere, Janice, and Janet E. Rennick. “Parent-Infant Interaction During Reading Questionnaire.” PsycTESTS Dataset (2015)

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