The Importance of Reading for Your Child's Development

Seeing your child lose themselves in a good book or watch them start learning something new through reading is an amazing thing. It shows our child has an active view of the world and is discovering new things. The ability to read is one of the most crucial skills a child learns at an early age. Research shows that strong reading skills are linked to improved cognitive abilities, better academic performance, improved self-esteem and confidence levels.

Why Reading Matters

  1. Expanding vocabulary and Imagination

    Reading introduces children to new words, ideas, and worlds. It ignites their imagination, encouraging creativity and curiosity. Reading to a child from birth to 5 years of age can open them to 1.4 million words more than children who have not been read to in this time.
  2. Self-esteem
    It can help build your child's confidence and self-esteem, allowing them to become their true selves. A study conducted examined the relationship between reading difficulties and self-esteem. They found that children who struggle with reading often experience poor self-esteem. By establishing healthy reading routines, it can increase your child’s self-esteem and confidence.
  3. Academic success

    It’s not just confidence reading can support but also improve their chances of succeeding academically. A 2016 study looked into how reading for pleasure affected academic performance. The study suggests that students who chose literature for pleasure perform better in subjects like English, maths, science and history.

    “Reading helps students think critically and improves reading comprehension skills, which is beneficial in every subject area measured in this study. However, the benefits of pleasure reading do not end in the classroom. Students take the skills they have honed through reading into adulthood and, in turn, into the workforce and society.”
  4. Bonding with your child
    Reading with your children is also a great activity to bond with your child. Studies have shown this can reduce stress and build trust and communication. Reading with your child can build an environment where they can openly talk about their emotions. There are now several children's books available that discuss feelings, emotions and mental health click here to learn more.

The Decline in Reading Enjoyment

Despite these benefits, reading enjoyment is declining. According to the National Literacy Trust, only 43.4% of children and young people aged 8 to 18 said they enjoyed reading in their free time in 2023. This is the lowest level since they started tracking the data in 2005. This is why it is important to encourage reading for early learners.

Encouraging a Love for Reading

  1. Make reading fun, not as a chore
    Instead of directing your aim to reading as a skill, focus on reading as a fun activity. Listen to your child and find out what they love. Pick out books that your child is interested in and captivate them. Whether it’s a fictional story, joke book or history book. Encouraging reading based on their interest will boost the likelihood they will continue reading.
  2. Set the example
    When children see their parents immersed in books, they’re more likely to read in their own time. Act as a reading role model, share your favourite books and discuss characters. Reading is not only beneficial to children but adults as well, you get to support yourself and your child.
  3. Try Audiobooks
    Some children can have difficulties with reading, for example, but not limited to dyslexia. Consider using audiobooks as a way for children to get into reading as some children can find this method easier to ingest literature. Additionally, it can be a way to read on the move like in the car on a long journey. You can also find narration from celebrities your child may recognise to encourage them to listen more.
  4. Read together before bedtime
    Spend some time together by reading to your child in bed. The nurturing act of sharing a story not only strengthens bonds but can also instil a love for books and reading. During this time, you can talk about the story together, and learn what your child likes most about books.
  5. Turn subtitles on for your child when they're watching TV
    “Turn on the Subtitles” research has shown that turning subtitles on when your child is watching TV can double the chance of your child leaving school as a proficient reader. Reading along with the same language subtitles is automatic amongst both adults and children. If your child is already watching TV, then this can be a way to passively increase the number of words they read.

Book a free assessment with one of our local Kip McGrath centres. Our experienced tutors can evaluate your child’s reading skills to support and nurture a love of reading.

Reading is not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about building and fostering a healthy relationship with literature.

Published in Global