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Another Benefit of Reading to Children

Child and Family

I am a huge proponent of reading to children. As a pediatrician, I often see how reading to children helps quite a bit with language development. Many studies over the years have also proven that kids whose parents read to them succeed in school. Now, there is yet another reason for you to cuddle up with your kid and a few good books.

Better behavior

A study reviewed in the April 2018 issue of Pediatrics, showed that parents reading aloud and playing with their children can help those kids have a better control of their behavior – which can be very important for learning when they begin school. This impacts far beyond literacy and language skills, but can help children with their focus in the classroom.

This recent study looked at kids from birth to age three. Researchers found that the kids involved in positive parenting activities such as play and reading to their children, had overall better behavior and sustained attention. These effects lasted into school entry and beyond.

Building a better brain

We know that one of the most active times of development in a child’s brain starts at birth. It’s important for parents to interact with their children and to read to them starting from birth. These children who were read to and involved in positive play with parents are better able to sustain attention in different activities. 

"Children involved with reading get involved with the stories. They’re involved with the characters and thinking about the characters. They can begin to think about the characters’ feelings and think about their own feelings about the story. These can lead to conversations that parents and children can have throughout their lives."

Dr. Elizabeth Walenz
Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician

Reach Out and Read

Thanks to the help of the Methodist Hospital Foundation, we have a Reach Out and Read program here at our Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency pediatric clinic. We give a new book to every child between the ages of six months and five years at their well-child checks. We also give a prescription for reading to the child and their parents. 

Making reading fun

Some parents tell me their children aren’t interested in books or that they don’t have the attention span to listen to a story. There are many ways to involve a child in the story and reading: 

  • Make up stories while looking at the pictures
  • Ask the child what his or her thoughts are about the story or pictures
  • Play act the story
  • Use different voices with the different characters
  • Make up activities to involve a child in the book

Involving a child in the storytelling process helps to form a positive relationship between the parent and child and helps to benefit the child in many ways throughout their life and school career.

It’s THAT important

Read to your child. Try to read to them every night. Continue to encourage reading throughout grade school and middle school and especially over the summer months. If you need strategies to help to include reading in your nighttime routine ask your pediatrician or family practitioner for suggestions.

Elizabeth Walenz

About the Author:

Pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Walenz loves seeing kids grow as well as helping them lead long and healthy lives. She is especially interested in nutrition, growth and development.

Dr. Walenz sees patients at Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency.

See More Articles by Elizabeth Walenz