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The importance of reading to children

Last Modified: February 03, 2020

Family Medicine, Women & Children

Lanissa Maggert, family support manager, Early Childhood Alliance, and Reshma Khatri, MD, PPG – Pediatrics, discuss the benefits of developing a regular reading routine.

Reading out loud to young children is hugely beneficial. Children develop a strong bond with their parents and learn best through warm, engaging interactions with those closest to them, like mom, dad and siblings.


As for the long term effects of reading to children, it certainly helps with school readiness, language development, thinking skills and vocabulary. Vocabulary is one of the best predictors for how your child will do with reading comprehension. Reading encourages a child’s imagination and empathy, as it allows them to put themselves into the characters’ position. Reading also brings families together.

Reading to kids

When to start

It’s never too early to start reading to your child. We often encourage parents to start reading before a baby is even born. Baby hears you in the womb. Certainly, at birth it becomes more exciting, as you can hold them close. They might not necessarily be attentive to words, but they hear the sounds and rhythm of language. Reading out loud really sets the tone for when they’ll learn to speak. The act truly supports success in school.

What to read

It depends on the age of the child and his or her interests and maturity. Early on (6-12 months), you should be reading very basic books, with limited text and pictures. You can look for options with lots of colors or different textures. Hold baby, point things out. As they get older, you can read small story books and pop-up books, and really play to their interests. Get them engaged. Ask them questions about what’s going to happen next, point to pictures and ask them about familiar things. This helps the child learn.

When to read

The important thing is to make it a routine. Read to your child every night before bedtime. This helps them relax and quiet down. It gives them something to look forward to. Start with a few minutes and build as they age.

The simple act of reading can have a big impact on your child’s life. Use your local library, find stories your child loves and enjoy some special time together.  


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