Reading to Children and Language Development
Science sets it clear that a child’s brain is not born but built. The process of developing a child’s language begins at an earlier age when the mind is still growing. Research shows that the best thing that any parent can do to help a child acquire language and like learning is to read to them. According to Bus et al. (1995), reading to children is related to diverse literacy skills as well as cognitive gains. Their study indicated a positive effect on reading interventions on kids’ language development, phonological awareness, and vocabulary outcomes. They also established a positive association between reading to children, comprehension, as well as print concepts. As such, there is evidence that reading to children provides them with higher literary and cognitive outcomes. In other words, reading to children leads to higher vocabulary, learning knowledge, as well as cognitive abilities. Besides, reading to children could also lead to motivational as well as attitudinal benefits for them in later years. In essence, the desire to learn as opposed to the skills often determines if a child decides to read or not. This positive influence toward reading in kids affects their level of engagement and academic performance. It means that reading to children should begin at a tender age. When a child is born, its brain is not yet developed and will grow with time, mainly in the course of the first year. Reading to a toddler helps to improve the brain pathways and forms the basis for language development. According to Keller and Just (2009), when a toddler listens to someone reading, he or she experiences increasing brain activity in the language output areas as the child attempts to store the spoken words into his or her memory. Thus, this paper argues that reading to a child every day is beneficial for language development.
A child’s language competence and development do not start when he or she enters school. According to Niklas, Cohrssen, and Tayler (2016), a child’s language development and literacy skills begin before formal education. They argue that children often become sensitive to words or speech from an early age. Besides, they say that parents and caregivers usually occupy vital spaces in children’s lives because they impact their learning. Since the interactions between parents and children appear more frequent and ongoing from birth, the home literacy setting gives an excellent context where children first develop literacy skills and language. Indeed, reading to children offers them the ability to get a sense of, explain, and take part in a world that surrounds them. Niklas, Cohrssen, and Tayler (2016) also say that the ability to read, with understanding, is the groundwork for success in children’s formal education. They hold that individuals who have higher literacy skills earn more income, have better works, have low stress, and enjoy excellent health. They similarly argue that a child’s oral linguistic competencies such as vocabularies develop from early learning practices. As such, a child’s capacity to know the language and use it expressively remains vital. As for Niklas, Cohrssen, and Tayler (2016), understanding the early phases of language growth and recognizing things that support children’s initial literacy experiences has a positive influence on their later language skills.
The language and learning experiences in a child’s first three years set the scene for his or her comprehension aptitudes. Niklas, Cohrssen, and Tayler (2016) submit that when parents talk to their children, they allow them to become active listeners and talkers. They also argue that as kids grow, their linguistic command becomes gradually vital. Thus, a child with outstanding early language skills often tends to do well in school than those with weak linguistic upbringings. Equally, parents who support their toddlers’ language growth facilitate vocabulary attainment. Reading to children also helps to create brain-pathways while laying the foundation for language development (Niklas, Cohrssen, & Tayler, 2016). Besides, when a parent reads to a child, he or she not only exposes the child to words but also proper speech patterns. Children that are poor readers from their first grade would almost certainly remain deprived readers by the end of their fourth grade. However, even though learning tends to happen during the school period, preparing kids to read before starting school is vital than supporting them to catch-up later. Moreover, apart from preparing these children for school, reading to them helps to implant a life-long passion for education.
Home learning settings offer children higher numeracy abilities while young than in school environments. According to Niklas, Cohrssen, and Tayler (2016), aspects of children’s home learning environments, including parental reading to children, offer essential vocabulary and phonological awareness. Such settings also give children further literacy skills that are vital in life and later school years. Niklas, Cohrssen, and Tayler (2016) show a higher association between diverse aspects of home learning settings and their linguistic capabilities. This informal setting also comprises of different variables, including shared reading, parent teaching, and other significant elements that go into preparing children at home. Though the home environment is often multifaceted, with several constructs, reading to children is a vital element of this concept. Earlier studies, including that of Bus et al. (1995), have proven that reading to children accounts for nearly 8 percent of the variance in kids’ language abilities. These findings offer crucial cues because reading to children might often be manipulated for several reasons. Similarly, the quality and frequency of reading to children appear to play a pertinent role in children’s linguistic growth. Hence, Bus et al. (1995) encouraged parents to begin reading to their kids at a younger age, arguing that the sooner they started, the better for their children to embark on learning.
Reading to children promotes the children’s receptive as well as expressive language. In their study, Dunst, Simkus, and Hamby (2012) show that reading to toddlers has a positive effect on their early literacy as well as language competencies. They also established that how toddlers were engaged in shared learning and reading influenced their first language skills. Their findings also indicated that it is never too earlier to start reading to both the toddlers and infants. For them, reading to children at tender ages was associated with higher and sometimes greater levels of literacy and language competences in later life. They also said that the younger the kids were to read, the higher they were likely to have improved literacy as well as language skills. They also found that the frequency of earlier learning and reading to toddlers was associated with literacy as well as language outcomes. As such, Dunst, Simkus, and Hamby (2012) stressed that there is no significant activity for parents to prepare their kids to achieve as readers than reading to them from early in life. They also recommended that it was not a secret that home activities were vital supplements to the classroom. At a younger age, infants can look at images, pictures, and listen to voices. Thus, Dunst, Simkus, and Hamby (2012) propose that guiding these infants by saying the names of the different objects or pictures helps to draw their attention while aiding them to associate words with both photos and real-life things.
Parent-children reading enhances language growth as well as school readiness. According to Law et al. (2018), parental reading is a vital aspect of what is generally known as ‘children’s home learning environment.’ Law et al. (2018) found that the more parents can read to their children, the better the children are likely to perform in their later academic as well as social life. Their findings also showed that receptive vocabulary abilities were central because it tended to predict children’s later educational and social performance in school. They also found that most of the available evidence suggested that children’s early receptive linguistic skills were highly hard to change. Besides, they also established that other findings indicated that early reading to children helped children to thrive and succeed academically throughout the pre-school time. Law et al. (2018) likewise found that school readiness before children could begin formal learning provided an excellent basis for their educational attainment. Equally, they found that children’s educational success and early reading achievements were founded on emergent literacy skills from birth to five years. For instance, they reveal that low linguistic scores above five years were related to poor literacy and mental condition at thirty-three years. In other words, their study demonstrated a link between early learning as well as later academic performance. For instance, they reported that children with poor reading skills at tender ages had almost 88 percent possibility of remaining below-average levels in their later years.
This paper maintained that reading to a child every day was beneficial for language development. The evidence used proves that kids learn to like language before they can even notice the existence of books when motivated. As such, the sources used suggested that reading to children promotes their curiosity and imagination while expanding their level of understanding of the world around them. They have also shown that reading to children also helps them to develop linguistic and literacy competencies, including listening abilities. By parents reading stories that interest their children, they can stretch their understanding and encourage them to enhance their skills.
Bus, A. G., Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., & Pellegrini, A. D. (1995). Joint book reading makes for success in learning to read: A meta-analysis on intergenerational transmission of literacy. Review of educational research, 65(1), 1-21.
Dunst, C. J., Simkus, A., & Hamby, D. W. (2012). Relationship between age of onset and frequency of reading and infants’ and toddlers’ early language and literacy development. Center for Early Literacy Learning, 5(3).
Law, J., Charlton, J., McKean, C., Beyer, F., Fernandez-Garcia, C., Mashayekhi, A., & Rush, R. (2018). Parent-child reading to improve language development and school readiness: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Niklas, F., Cohrssen, C., & Tayler, C. (2016). The sooner, the better: Early reading to children. Sage Open, 6(4), 2158244016672715.
Databases used to find each article
The database used to find the above articles was Google scholar.
Search Strategy used to Find Article
In efforts to find the above articles, some of the keywords that were used include ‘reading to children,’ ‘early reading to children,’ ‘parent-child reading and benefits,’ and ‘early reading to toddlers and infants.’
If articles were primary or secondary research
Apart from Law et al. (2018), which was a secondary research, the other three sources were primary sources.