Reading is the gateway to learning. Without the ability to read, children will fail to thrive academically. While hearing information helps children process new ideas and helps them master lessons, reading is crucial to understanding these lessons and for facilitating information.
We learn to read so we can read to learn. If a child wonders “why learn to read?” Parents need to help them understand all the benefits of books and reading. Here’s why everyone needs to learn how to read.
Beyond learning, there are many reading benefits. Real Simple explains that reading a book can make us smarter, help exercise the brain, increase our empathy, offer a relaxing respite, and even help ward off Alzheimer’s Disease.
Children might not care about dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease; they might not even understand what these conditions mean for the brain. Yet, reading daily and creating a reading habit can help them love books as they turn into adults who do worry about memory loss and dementia.
Reading also can boost our intelligence; reading a book exposes us to new words and ideas. Children increase their vocabulary and facilitate a greater understanding of the world around them. Reading a history book teaches them about events from the past and figures who shaped these events. Math books expose children to theorems, equations and numerical concepts. Science textbooks teach children about nature, the universe, biology and more.
The Importance of Reading
Why is it important to read? Beyond the many benefits of reading, books and stories are a form of entertainment. They are fun and help children learn how to create stories in their minds.
Reading often can help children become better readers. After all, practice makes perfect. Children should understand that the importance of regular reading is to create a reading habit. By reading everyday, children learn new ideas, new words and learn how to immerse their mind in books and stories.
Regular reading habits also expose children to different genres of books. Children can discover which books interest them and maybe which books don’t really appeal to their interests. Through regular reading habits, children can find new authors and learn the different and unique storytelling voices that exist.
How to Become a Good Reader
A ‘good reader’ is one who reads fluently and can comprehend the text that they read. Mastering fluency and comprehension can take time. Children are expected to reach grade-level literacy benchmarks; these benchmarks are associated with particular reading levels. In order to reach a new reading level, children must demonstrate fluency and a mastery of reading comprehension.
In addition, children also need to have a good grasp of vocabulary at each reading level. Some children might take longer than others to progress in their reading skills. These children might struggle with one or more elements of literacy.
To become a better reader, children might need more support than the school can provide. How can parents guide a struggling reader to help them overcome their hurdles?
Using visual aids like a reading comprehension bookmark or graphic organizers can help children who struggle with reading comprehension skills. A bookmark includes important prompts that children need to think about as they read. Parents can find examples of these bookmarks online.
Graphic organizers are worksheets that are focused on a specific literary element. For example, a graphic organizer could highlight story themes, characters, plot, etc. These worksheets include sections where children can write details about the story that relates to the different prompts for the organizer’s overall focus. Graphic organizers are designed to help children organize their thoughts and data to better process meaning, make predictions, etc.
Benefits of Reading for Adults
The benefits of reading doesn’t end after children grow into adults. Again, there are many benefits of reading. In fact, reading could help decrease the risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and help those who suffer from the disease.
Adults also are never too old to learn new words or new ideas. Reading books can open up unique worlds in adulthood. Explore new countries without leaving home. Learn a new language. Discover the history of a favorite hobby.
Books and reading also can be relaxing. Reading before bed can help prepare the body for sleep. One study noted that reading boosted the quality of sleep. Ditch the blue light from a phone or a tablet and pick up a book instead!
How to Create Good Reading Habits
Some children simply don’t want to pick up a book. Creating good reading habits helps children make reading a part of each day. However, parents should start creating a reading habit at a young age.
When children are toddlers, parents can read aloud to them. Encourage children to explore the library and pick out books they want their parents to read to them at night. Let them take the lead in discovering new books.
Try to read to children every night. As toddlers grow into preschoolers, teach them how to sound out words. Parents might even check out books from the library that are easy for young readers to decode. Get them excited to learn how to read.
As children reach school age, they will be required to accrue a specific number of reading minutes per day. This could start to zap the reading joy. Try not to focus on the clock; instead encourage children to read a book they love. If they read an hour one day but only a few minutes another day, those reading minutes balance out. Focus on reading quality, not just reading quantity.
Why Embrace the Joy of Reading
Reading requirements might only encourage children to read for the absolute bare minimum amount of minutes. The joy of reading keeps them interested in books and stories. Fostering this joy is important to teaching children that books aren’t just an assignment, they are a gateway to adventure and fun. Yes, books are entertainment.
Encourage children to choose their own books (at their reading level). Create a fun reading environment; perhaps children read in a makeshift tent with a flashlight. Encourage them to ask questions as they read. Parents also should read aloud to young children; in fact, children of all ages love to hear stories.
Don’t negate the importance of alternative reading materials. Magazines, comic books, newspapers and graphic novels also instill a joy of reading. Let children read computer books or textbooks; some children love to read old encyclopedias!
Encouraging Reading is Crucial
To help children gain reading fluency and confidence, parents should focus on encouraging reading. Don’t nag and try not to make daily reading feel like just another chore.
Introduce children to storytime events at the public library. Sign them up for book clubs or summer reading programs that reward them for reading regularly. Encourage children to discover new authors and genres.
In addition, parents play an important role in their child’s attitude toward books and reading. If children don’t see their parents reading, they may wonder why reading is important. Model good reading behaviors. Let children see parents reading a book, a magazine or the newspaper. Carve out family reading time and encourage everyone to read for fun.
Parents also can help children explore how books can translate visually. Many children’s books have been adapted into movies. After a child reads a book, watch the movie adaptation. Encourage children to spot the differences between the book and the movie. Help children understand how the print medium can become the basis for a Hollywood blockbuster.
Some children might wonder why they need to learn to read. The importance of literacy cannot be underestimated. Without the ability to read, children might fall behind in their education, limit their knowledge and never experience the amazing and fun escape that a book adventure offers.