3 Benefits of Reading to Your Child (and how to do it)

In our house, it’s a nightly routine.

Story time happens right before bed, when I cuddle in and read a few picture books to my sons. There are nights when I wish I could skip it, because I’m tired or I really don’t feel like reading one of those Pigeon books*. One. More. Time.

But we always try to squeeze in time for reading aloud to our kids, and it turns out it’s a really good thing that we do.

Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Children

  1. It helps them learn that reading is fun and worth repeating even later on in life.
    Children who are read to at a young age are far more likely to read for pleasure when they are older than are children who are not.
  2. Reading aloud to children builds their vocabulary.
    By Kindergarten, a child who was read aloud to regularly will have heard 32 million more words than a child who was not. The more words a child recognizes, the more words they will understand when they start reading on their own.
  3. It exposes our kids to complex and rare words.
    In regular conversation, we tend to use only 2000 different words, especially when we’re talking to our kids. But even picture books contain thousands of rare or complex words that kids will only hear when we’re reading aloud to them.

How long should I read aloud to my child?

I’m sure you agree that after a long day at work or running errands, our time at home is short. And finding time to read to our kids can seem like just one more thing to do. But, as with most things, the amount of time we spend reading to our kids really matters.

If this sounds like you, you’ll be pleased to know that even just 20 minutes every day does the trick.

When your kids are little – age 0 to 5 – reading aloud to them for 20 minutes a day provides 600 hours of essential pre-literacy experience before they enter school. That’s a lot of hours.

Older children benefit, too.

For our school-age babes, 20 minutes of nightly reading adds up to 3600 minutes, or 60 hours, over the course of an average school year. Leading to:

  • higher tests scores
  • exposure to nearly 2 million words each year
  • and greater enthusiasm for reading and likelihood of becoming a lifelong reader

Not bad for 20 minutes, huh?

Not sure where to start? Check out these resources for more tips and tricks for reading aloud to your babes:

10 Tips for Read Aloud — Teach Mama

Reading with Older Children Cult of Pedagogy

Make Storytime Magical Reading is Fundamental

Reading aloud to your child is one of the greatest gifts parents can give. So, I guess I can handle reading the Pigeon book a few more times. And I definitely don’t mind the cuddling.

* A note to Mo Willems: I love the Pigeon books. Truly. Madly. Deeply. Even on the 400th reading, they continue to be entertaining. Seriously.


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