It might not seem like you’re doing much when you crack open a board book to the delight of your child, but you may be opening the door to a brighter future when you do. Studies show that a child who have been reading 5 books or more a day have heard an average of 1.4 million more words than a child who hasn’t.
While hearing more words may not seem all that important, it can mean the world in terms of reading and vocabulary development. Children who have heard their share of new and unfamiliar words from a book, will be better prepared when confronted with these words learning to read and write.
Why books matter
Let’s think for a moment about what kind of books we tend to read with our children. One book might be about snakes or spiders to entertain a young boy, another might be about how rainbows are made. Most of the books we read to our kids have very different topics, but they all have one thing in common—the vocabulary in them aren’t the kind that commonly comes up in conversation.
If the words your kids learn are purely left up to what we talk about in day to day living, your child will never hear words like “Giraffe” “Serengeti” or “Acacia,” all words they might read in a book about Giraffes.
When it comes time to go to school and their world is suddenly filled with new and unfamiliar words, having a few more to rely on can help boost their understanding in school.
Even 1 book a day makes a difference
The study also took the time to look at what happens when only one book a day was read to children. The study assumed that children would look at board books until 3 years old, and then move on to picture books as they got older.
By the time they are capable of reading themselves, even one book a day will have given them the chance to hear 290,000 more words. This is still a huge benefit compared to not reading at all, and can make a difference in their future.
TV doesn’t make a difference
Although educational programs do have their place in helping young children grow, they don’t help very much with language development. TV is passive and one way, meaning your child doesn’t have to participate. They’re only a spectator.
On the other hand, reading a book is interactive. Children can talk with their parents about anything that confuses them. They can ask questions. They can participate. Reading a book or even just talking to parents is much better for them than even the finest television programming, and does more for reading development.
The next time your child is begging for a book, reading to them is one of the best things you can do to benefit their future. Read them a book (or 5!) and know that they will reap the benefits of that story time for years to come!