Why should I read to my child?
In a classic study, William Condon and Louis Sander (1974) filmed newborn infants listening to various sounds. A frame-by-frame analysis of the films showed something astonishing: infants move their arms and legs to the rhythms of human speech. Random noise, rhythmic tapping, or disconnected vowel sounds will not produce a "language dance". Only natural speech has this effect...an infant's "language dance" reflects a readiness to interact socially with parents, not innate language recognition.
- Credit: Introduction to Psychology, Dennis Coon & John O. Mitterer
From birth, children are built to yearn interactions with their parents. And these interactions are meant to set the stage for language-learning. The more children interact with parents, the faster they learn to talk and the faster they learn thinking abilities (Hart & Risley, 1999).
It is no wonder then that reading to children from a young age contributes positively to the early learning stages of a child. And research has shown that this has long-term benefits for the child. A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) found that children whose parents frequently read with them in their first year of school were six months ahead in reading levels at the age of 15. The report says that parents did not have to be particularly well-educated themselves for this impact to be achieved.What was important was that parents read books regularly with their children - such as several times a week - and that they talked about what they were reading together.
So, the more often you read to your child, the more likely it will help them pick up speaking earlier. And with the benefits lasting all the way till their teenage years, there's no reason not to make reading to your child a family habit! Start today, even if it's for 5 minutes before bed!