What’s the story? The benefits of reading to your child from an early age

Victoria Lancaster

Snuggling up with your little one from an early age and delving into a book together is always a great way to spend time, but did you know reading to your child from day one has a whole range of benefits that will give them a flying start in life?

Firstly, it’s a great introduction to reading, writing and vocabulary.  Seeing an adult sounding out the words and linking them to the shapes on the page begins to build literary building blocks that they will use for the rest of their life.  Reading aloud introduces children to new words they might not normally hear and helps them build up their understanding of language as well as the wider world, which is so important whether they are a book loving ‘Matilda’ or more of a reluctant reader.

Then there are a whole host of brilliant effects of hearing stories, which boost their minds and develop social awareness and skills, which are just as important as learning to spell. At a time when they are perhaps stuck indoors more than ever before, reading is the best way to spark children’s imagination. You can travel to the moon, meet the Gruffalo and pop in to a chocolate factory all before you’ve even had lunch!  This means children will have a solid creative base and bolster their own story telling skills as well as enjoying adventurous days at home. Fantastic lands, stories and characters can inspire play ideas for children too, and there are plenty of online resources for more ways to bring books to life through play.

There’s no better way to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes than reading their story and seeing things from another’s point of view is a great way to build empathy and tolerance, qualities needed now more than ever. There are some fantastic children’s books out at the moment worth seeking out which show characters from all ethnicities, genders and backgrounds doing brilliant things, acting as strong role models for the next generation.  These stories can encourage future leaders and thinkers, so every child can feel they can achieve their dreams, from the ‘Little Leaders’ series to ‘Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls’ it’s inspiring to see everyone following their own path despite the obstacles they come across.

There’s a whole flurry of remarkable books out right now which help little ones process emotions. From ‘The Colour Monster’ to ‘Ruby’s Worry’ these books will give children an emotional toolkit, helping them to name and understand different emotions which is essential for social development, making friends and growing relationships. It can also help them deal with difficult feelings, like loss or grief, with amazing books like ‘Paper Dolls’ which explores memory and loss in a beautiful and positive way.  

Reading time is a brilliant bonding tool with parents or carers, which bolsters confidence and a sense of security for little ones. A regular bedtime story creates routine which small children especially love, and can even help them sleep better, who doesn’t want that!  Now is the perfect time to build up a library of remarkable reads ready for children to enjoy now and in the future, from lifting the flap to find Spot, to meeting magical Harry and his friends, they will create memories to last a lifetime. On top of the benefits for your little one, it’s fun, relaxing and a great chance to go back and relive the best books from your own childhood, at bedtime, once upon a time, or anytime.

Tori Lancaster is the founder of Book and Play a subscription service delivering brilliant books and activity packs to enjoy with your little ones every month.

Visit the Book and Play website or Facebook page to find out more.