A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

It’s never too early to read to your child

Mom reading book with infant daughter

Parents who read to their children help them develop reading skills and expand vocabulary and comprehension.

Reading is a critical part of communication and learning and important to help your child get an early start.

Parents who read to their children help them develop not only reading skills but expand their vocabulary and comprehension, said Marshfield Clinic Pediatrician Robert Bullwinkel.

“Parents who read with their children encourage the ability to read and interpret the subject they’re reading about,” Bullwinkel said. “It also helps children develop communication skills, construct sentences and thoughts correctly; and interpret what people say to them.”

Playing with books leads to reading them

For babies, get them to sit in your lap and briefly engage with a book. Get them comfortable with looking at and handling the book. It’s OK if they sometimes put it in their mouths and try to eat it.

As preschool-aged children, they should ask parents to read to them and may recognize letters and some words. By early school age, they are reading and writing some words.  Eventually, they are doing their schoolwork and reading on their own.

“If we as parents encourage reading early on, our teenage children are more likely to consider reading a fun activity. We hope they would choose to spend their free time reading,” Bullwinkel said.

He also recommends families spend time before bed reading, playing board games or doing puzzles.

Parents should engage in these activities with their children to set a good example. These activities encourage the free exchange of ideas and language and help develop skills to improve children’s ability to interact with their world at work and home.

“We want to expose children to as much reading and communication as possible early on,” Bullwinkel said. “Read, sing, talk; the more they hear the better for them.”

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