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Read daily to kids - the proof of its benefits

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Recent research quantified what we’ve intuitively known about children and reading. That is, the more adults read to children from an early age, the greater the impact on their reading and thinking skills.

It was reported in The Age (3rd March 2013 )that a longitudinal study by The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research measured the link between the frequency of reading to a child and his or her development.

The study followed 4,000 children, aged four to five years in 2004 through to ages 10 and 11 and found that reading to a child six to seven days a week puts him almost a year ahead of a child who has not been read to. The study also found that children who were read to every day from a young age also have better numeracy skills in primary school.

The benefits don’t stop at reading to pre-school aged children. The study found that kids who are read to more often keep doing better as they age than other children.

The finding send a clear message to parents, and other adults such as grandparents –reading to children goes beyond a simple fun, bonding experience. It is perhaps the single most important activity you can do to give a child a head start in literacy.

As a former primary teacher and literacy consultant I’ve seen the benefits first hand of children who come from language and reading rich environments. Anecdotally, these children are streets ahead of those who come from language and reading deficient environments.

So, how can you help?

Stock up on your children’s book library at home. Establish a comfortable reading spot so that your kids associate that place with reading and books.

Make reading to your kids a habit. If you’ve wriggly boys who don’t sit still, keep the reading time short and make sure the books are of interest to boys. The grubbier and gorier the content the better, usually!

Make reading time interesting and fun rather than laborious and boring. That way your kids will always look forward to their reading time with you.

Make sure your kids take plenty of books on visits and sleepovers with grandparents, and other relatives. Let them know how important reading daily to children is.

Books make great presents so pass the word around that it would be most welcome for your kids to receive books that you can read to them.

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