A child must be able to read in order to even progress through school. Reading is essential to following the instructions on the test and being able to even understand or answer the questions.
One of the least expected predictors of life success is one’s reading ability in primary school. Reading with pleasure, and especially reading fiction, is far more important than we have ever imagined. Finding ways to develop engaged readers is important for every child, but particularly for boys.
Increasingly, new research across many countries is showing that the best predictor of future education achievement and life success is reading ability – or, more significantly, being an engaged reader.
If all reading is helpful, reading fiction offers added benefits – in fact, astounding benefits! It has long been argued that reading great literature improves us as human beings.
The act of reading, particularly engaged reading, as opposed to the mechanics of reading, is a powerful predictor of life success by any measure. It is the best predictor of who goes to university regardless of socio-economic background. It is the best predictor of life income, career options, even life partner choices. And neuroscience is proving that reading fiction is one of the most powerful means of developing sympathetic individuals, with better social skills and higher levels of self esteem, resulting in increasing self improvement and prosocial behaviours.
Reading allows us to be transported from our own world to another. Between the pages of a book, we can become immersed in the lives of fictional characters and learn about a culture entirely different from our own. We can also learn new words and phrases, experience a range of emotions, and acquire skills and knowledge.
Because of the learning potential, the effects of reading on child development are vast and multiple studies have highlighted its benefits. As such, teachers and parents are in a great position to ensure reading is a key part of children’s daily routine. We’ll give you some more information as to why this is so important and provide some tips that you can use both in and out of the classroom.
The importance of reading for children cannot be underestimated. Reading for pleasure can benefit a child’s education, social and cognitive development, their wellbeing, and their mental health.
There are multiple other benefits that reading can have on a child’s development, including:
Assisted cognitive development. Cognitive development refers to how we perceive and think about our world in reference to our intelligence, reasoning, language development, and information processing. By reading to children, you provide them with a deep understanding about their world and fill their brains with background knowledge. They then use this acquired background knowledge to make sense of what they see, hear, and read, which aids their cognitive development.
Developing empathy. When we read a book, we put ourselves in the story in front of us. This allows us to develop empathy as we experience the lives of other characters and can identify with how they are feeling. Children can then use this understanding to empathise in the real world with other people. Additionally, children will gain a greater understanding of emotions, which can help them understand their own emotions and those of others. This helps dramatically with their social development.
Gaining deeper understanding. A book can take us anywhere: to another city, to a different country, or even to an alternative world. By reading a book, a child learns about people, places, and events that they couldn’t learn otherwise. This gives children a deeper understanding of the world around them and cultures that are different from their own.
Building stronger relationships. If a parent reads with a child on a regular basis, then they will undoubtedly develop a stronger relationship with them. Reading provides parents with an opportunity to have a regular and shared event that both parent and child can look forward to. Furthermore, it provides children with feelings of attention, love, and reassurance which is key for nurturing and wellbeing.
Reading with children can help to create a love of reading for life. Multiple studies have found a correlation between reading for pleasure and higher academic achievement in every subject, not just English.
The benefits of reading with children on their education is wide-ranging:
Improved literary skills. Reading with aloud with young children, even if they can’t fully understand what you are saying, gives them the skills they need for when they begin to read by themselves. It shows children that reading is something achieved by focusing from left to right and that turning pages is essential for continuing. Reading to children in even the earliest months of their lives can help with language acquisition and stimulating the part of the brain that processes language.
More extensive vocabulary. Hearing words spoken aloud can expose children to a range of new vocabulary and phrases that they may not have heard otherwise. By reading to a child daily, they’ll learn new words every single day.
Greater concentration. Regular and consistent reading can help to improve a child’s concentration abilities. Furthermore, it will help a child learn to sit still and listen for long periods of time, which will benefit them in their schooling.
Higher levels of creativity and imagination. Reading a book relies on us using our imagination for picturing characters, visualising their settings and environment, and guessing what’s coming next. We must use our imagination if we are to learn about other people, places, events, and times. In turn, this developed imagination leads to greater creativity as children use the ideas in their heads to inform their work.
Finally, the more that a child is read to, and the more that they read themselves, the better they will become at it. Practice really does make perfect and, the more a child reads, the better their overall academic achievement and social skills, like empathy, will be.