Ask any parent what traits they'd like to see in their kids, and intelligence is commonly near the top of the pile. If you're a mum or dad hoping to boost your toddler's brainpower, then frequent reading time will bring significant benefits.
Why reading is so important
Most parents know that reading to their kids helps with their general preparedness for reading-based tasks as they get older, but here are some of the more specific advantages of cuddling up for regular storytime sessions.
Better concentration: Developing concentration is a key life skill and the quicker children learn this, the less fidgety and impatient they'll be from a younger age! Reading encourages kids to sit still and pay attention.
Increased academic achievement: Various studies have shown that children who are exposed to reading early are more likely to perform better when they join school.
Developed language skills: This might seem obvious, but reading with your kids helps them to improve their basic language skills in various ways. Not only do they learn the words themselves, they subconsciously absorb the nuances of grammar, punctuation and pronunciation.
Enhanced logical thinking and imagination: Stories are great for a toddler's imagination, while also helping them to grasp abstract concepts and other important cognitive skills.
Reading is fun: A good book is fun, educational and immersive - which can keep your kids entertained for hours. Children begin reading early are more likely to choose it as an activity over television as they get older.
Even for really little children?
A question many parents ask themselves is how quickly they should begin reading to their children - and studies suggest that it's never too early!
In fact, reading even to newborns can have a range of benefits, including giving you valuable one-on-one time with your baby. This helps them get used to your voice and is a great way of bonding in those early weeks and months.
The experience will also introduce them to different emotions, which will be conveyed by your tone when reading the story. This is particularly true if you put on voices for the characters.
However, the younger a child is, the shorter their attention span will be, so don't become discouraged if they don't appear to be taking it all in.
You'll also need to find appropriate reading material. Shorter stories with plenty of big, colourful pictures will help them remain engaged for longer periods of time.
Eventually, as they get older you'll be able to introduce increasingly challenging books to the storytime list, having already set the groundwork with simpler tales.
How to ensure storytime is fun, even for reluctant kids
Not all kids will enjoy reading right from the beginning, especially if they struggle connecting letters and formulating the right sounds.
But don't despair; there are a number of tips you can try to motivate your child so that reading time becomes a treat instead of a chore.
Let them pick: Youngsters are much more likely to enjoy reading if you let them select their favourite books, whether it's a comic, joke book or even a video game manual.
Reading aloud: It's important that you play as much as an active role in your child's reading development as possible, so joining in is a must! Reading aloud to your children helps them become familiar with how words look and sound, helping them build confidence in their language skills.
Repetition is okay: Reading the same books over and over may seem a bit repetitive, but it's actually an amazing way for children to learn. They'll get used to all the words and sounds, as well as identify their favourite characters.
Don't forget a toy: Snuggling up for reading time with a favourite toy is a big part of the fun, so make sure your kid has a prized possession to bring to storytime! How about a Pillow Pet? These plush folding stuffed animals are an ideal reading companion, especially when tucked up in bed.