The Importance of Reading to Children and Its Enhancements to Their Development

One of the joys of parenthood is the peaceful, soothing experience of reading a bedtime story to your child. Your comforting voice can help lull them into a sleepy state as you read aloud melodic nursery rhymes and other enchanting stories. To this day, I have a cassette tape of my mom reading “Cinderella,” a recording she made just before leaving on a short vacation. She knew I’d need it to fall asleep.

For babies, simply hearing words and language as you read to them is beneficial. And as children grow older, relatable themes and meaningful content in the books you read together lead to those deep, “what’s the meaning of life?” type of questions kids tend to ask as they draw close to slumber. That’s why the team at K12-powered online schools created the Leading with Literacy hub—to provide resources and tips for helping your child build a lifelong love of reading, starting at a young age!

So, as you pick books at the local library or from your home collection to read together, know that these are some of the wonderful benefits your child is experiencing each time you read to them:

Exposure to Words and Language

Did you know simply hearing words is crucial to your child’s language development? Research shows that it is the most important thing for building language pathways in a child’s brain, as it boosts their language and cognitive capacity, expanding their ability to make sense of and use words.

In fact, a study from Ohio State University found that young children whose parents read to them at least one book a day will hear around 290,000 more words by age 5 than children who are not read to regularly. And children whose parents read five books each day will hear about 1.4 million more words than children who were never read to.

Boost in Cognitive Development

Reading helps prepare children for school because it builds a strong foundation of knowledge and a deeper understanding of the world around them. This foundation provides a child with context for complex subjects and makes it easier to understand new topics or make sense of what they experience as they grow.

To support children in building this strong basis for learning, the K12 Program offers a reading guarantee for students who attend a K12-powered online school for the entirety of grades 1-3.

Deepening of Relationships and Bonding Attachment

Simply reading together can help children build secure attachment, an important bond that plays a crucial role in brain development. Research shows that safe and secure communication, like reading together, helps create a foundation on which children will form relationships throughout their lives. It also helps build confidence and resiliency to stress as well as the ability to manage emotions and maintain meaningful relationships. Plus, they will experience a wide range of positive feelings in the moment like comfort, safety, attention, and love.

Development of Social-Emotional Skills

Studies show that there is a correlation between reading at a young age and the development of interpersonal and social-emotional skills, particularly empathy. And this is due to the feelings, experiences, and oftentimes, the heroic actions of characters they read about in books. Think of the classic Dr. Seuss book “Horton Hears a Who”—Horton the elephant did everything in his power to protect the small townspeople of Whoville because, as he adamantly states, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Reading stories about relatable characters can also help children understand and manage their emotions. By seeing how characters cope with similar feelings, children can learn that it is okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated at times. They can also learn positive ways to deal with these emotions.

It’s good for us, too.

Let’s face it—reading to our kids is therapeutic for us as parents, too. And someday, we will miss how excited our children are when they pick out their bedtime story and insist on seeing the pictures as we read.

For more resources and tips on reading with your child, go to the K12 Leading with Literacy hub. While you’re there, you can print a bookmark featuring Strider the Fox for your child to color and use in their favorite books.

To learn more about K12-powered online schools and their reading guarantee, go to

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