Updated: Feb 14
The Benefits of Reading Books to Your Preschooler
By DENISE SHIELDS
It’s certainly no secret that reading to young preschool children improves their cognitive abilities and gives them a “leg up” as they prepare for their more formal education and school years. But did you know that there are many emotional and social benefits for preschoolers when parents and other adults read to them?
Yes, studies have shown this. And, as we all know, another big advantage to reading is universal, as well - it’s fun!
Walk the walk: Know the “Whys”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the portion of a child’s brain associated with visual images, story comprehension, and word meaning is strengthened when they hear stories. The well-known Becoming a Nation of Readers report (1985) identified reading aloud to children as the No. 1 best activity for building knowledge and a youngster’s later success in reading on their own.
So, academically and via simple common sense and experience, we know that reading to young children has many benefits that will serve them well all of their lives. But are you aware of just how many advantages story time can bring?
Here are just a few benefits of reading books to preschoolers.
Improved Social, Emotional, and Character Development
A study by the New York University School of Medicine found that reading to our youngest learners leads to a dip in levels of aggression, hyperactivity, and attention troubles. By hearing stories, preschoolers learn that they can describe their feelings with words when they otherwise might find this difficult. That way, they are better able to navigate their feelings when they experience more complex emotions like sadness or anger.
Higher Reading Scores Later
The U.S. Department of Education reports that young students have higher reading scores, in general, the more they read or are read to for fun. On their own time and at home, this is vital for youth. As we all know, reading comprehension is key to many other portions of their education and the building blocks of knowledge.
Preparation For Kindergarten
Psychology Today reports that children who are introduced early to books via an adult reading aloud to them have a 32-million-word advantage by age 4 over those who did not get this experience.
Early Detection of a Reading Disability
Neuroscientists have found that the brain of preschool-age children “is malleable and more likely to reorganize dysfunctional or dyslexic reading circuitry if we intervene early,” J. Richard Gentry, Ph.D., writes for Psychology Today. This means that reading books at home to your preschooler can be an early intervention tool that will help those with disabilities address them later.
Appreciation for Creativity and Reading On Their Own
It’s been shown that preschoolers to whom stories are read develop a curiosity for books and reading - not to mention an affection for tales, according to Psychology Today. As we all know, it’s typical for a child to have a favorite book or story, and these positive interactions certainly help give them an early appreciation for reading.
Increased Cognitive Abilities
Yes, we all think we know this - reading can make kids smarter - but do we know why? According to Gentry, author of “Raising Confident Readers, How to Teach Your Child to Read and Write - from Baby to Age 7,” children grow in intelligence when adults read aloud to them and also allow them, at ages 3-5, to “choose books with interesting content and read them independently.”
Writes Gentry, “Reading and being read to enables 2- and 3-year-olds to use complicated sentences, manage memory of distant events, build general knowledge, access new information, and develop powers of reflection. Reading stimulates language and vocabulary development, which is highly correlated with measures of intelligence. A 5-year-old reader acquires new knowledge from reading, while a 5-year-old nonreader can only admire the pictures.”
These points and many others are why it’s important to read to preschoolers. But parents at home aren’t alone in helping cultivate a love of reading in our little ones.
Talk the talk: Do the “Do’s”
Obviously, it’s good for adults to read to children daily. Knowing the benefits and being able to “walk the walk” for our preschoolers is one thing - parents also have to “talk the talk” - and do the good things that contribute to children’s love of reading.
As important as it is for parents and other adults at home to read to youth, it’s a big boost when this activity is supported for them in preschool, even for the youngest children. That kind of reinforcement is a certain boost for their education.
I’ve made this a centerpiece of my curriculum at Creative Kids Virtual Preschool. “Ollie the Crow” and I have story time to help build on children’s love of books. In fact, Ollie and I read and “bring to life” a different story book nearly every week using today’s most popular children’s books. You can log on to our story time here: Story Time With Ms. Denise & Ollie
Visit often for the next episode of “Story Time With Denise & Ollie!”, and be sure to download a list of my most popular/recommended preschool books!
As we’ve discussed, the benefits of reading books to your preschoolers are abundant, from building their knowledge at a young age to helping them be better prepared when they begin kindergarten. I’ve saved the best for last: My favorite reason to read books to young children …
You introduce them to whole new worlds for the rest of their lives - and the sky’s the limit!
Most of us remember our favorite childhood book. As children grow and learn, they discover more stories and begin to branch out - to series books, for example. Reading will serve them well as they continue their education, but it can bring endless joy throughout their lives as a valued hobby.
And don’t forget - they will begin this lifelong love with you. They will remember story times with Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and other key adults around them. These are special memories you are building.
Have Fun Reading!
About the Author
Denise Shields is a licensed preschool teacher from Virginia. When she had to close her preschool last year due to COVID restrictions, Denise brought her preschool program online to offer a virtual experience to young children. She has worked with preschool children for 26 years, with 14 years as a preschool teacher. She is the owner and founder of both Creative Kids Preschool in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and the free virtual preschool program called Creative Kids Virtual Preschool, which has helped thousands of families educate their young preschoolers during the COVID-19 pandemic.