In today’s 24/7 connected culture, it can be challenging to help your kids build a strong reading habit. Fun reading activities can help but if your child is a fun-loving adolescent who loves to play outside, getting him to sit still long enough to read may be impossible. And if/when electronics are introduced to the mix, it could distract young children further away from old-fashioned reading. But research shows that kids who develop good reading skills early on have a much better chance at continued success as they get older.
Consider this, according to the Ferst Readers, an organization that strengthens communities by providing quality books and literacy resources, the greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five. At birth, your baby’s brain is only 25 percent of its adult size. And by age three, roughly 85 percent of the brain’s core structure is formed. By kindergarten, a child’s brain is virtually fully formed.
The research is clear: reading comprehension and literacy skills can have profound effects on young readers and their IQ, ability to communicate, writing skills, motivation, curiosity and memory. Simply put, reading is extremely important for kids to start early; here’s why.
The Benefits of Reading
Is your child one who doesn’t like to read? Are you wondering why he or she should read when he can discover the same information through meaningful programs on the Internet and television? For starters, early reading does more for a child than just transfer knowledge and teach new words. There are many positive effects that come from reading and learning activities. Here’s how reading can influence your child positively:
Builds key networks in the brain
There’s no better way to keep a child’s mind alert than by diving into an educational book. Reading is a neurologically demanding task that causes a child’s brain to focus. It also expands and enhances learning capacity. Reading can also help him boost his concentration while keeping his memory sharp. How many activities can you name that have that many brain-boosting advantages?
Prevents Alzheimer’s and Dementia
It may sound unbelievable but studies have shown that reading can help your child avoid brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Playing board games and reading may be casual pastimes but new research shows a link between these intellectual activities and a person’s risk for developing dementia later on in life.
The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, examined 15,500 people living in Hong Kong for five years. At the start of the study none of them had dementia but around 13,000 did by the end. The research found that the risk for developing dementia was significantly lower among the men and women who reported doing daily intellectual activities like reading books, newspapers, magazines as well as playing board and card games.
Improves Your Child’s Vocabulary
While an improved vocabulary would be a natural outcome from kids reading, only a few studies have ever explored whether knowing more words can help children in school. But a recent Ohio State University study explored the relationship between children’s vocabulary and reading for little ones under five. The results were astounding. Children whose parents read aloud to them five books or more each day hear over 1.4 million words before they ever step foot into kindergarten. For the kids who don’t get read to regularly? They enter school with a “million word gap” in their vocabulary.
“Kids who hear more vocabulary words are going to be better prepared to see those words in print when they enter school. They are likely to pick up reading skills more quickly and easily,” lead author Jessica Logan explained in a statement. Being articulate will not only help your child improve his self-confidence but will also help him achieve success in his professional life as well.
Overall, fun reading activities can also boost your child’s imagination by inspiring creativity, increasing empathy for others, improving mental flexibility and stimulating their brain. When you consider all of the famous and infamous characters from books over the years, it’s picture-proof that reading unlocks imagination.
Fun Reading Activities to Try With Your Kids
So, how might you increase your child’s interest with reading? Try some fun reading activities! By making reading a fun activity rather than something children have to “do” or a chore, you can help them appreciate the value of words on paper and turn them into a bookworm in no time at all! Try these fun reading activities with your kids.
Tip 2: Play Pre-Reading Games
Is your little one better suited for pre-reading books? Foster a love of words and reading from a very early stage with Reading Bug Box, which includes 2-3 books plus gift items, thoughtfully curated to your child’s age and interests. Use flash cards to teach letter sounds and combine those with expert-picked books designed to instill a love of reading in your little one.
Tip 4: Play Make-Believe Through Costumes and Books
Does your child like to dress up as his favorite superhero? Throw on costumes and join him in pursuit of an active imagination. The Little Bookish Wardrobe combines the best of fun reading activities and imaginative play. You’ll get a monthly delivery of an engaging book, along with character-inspired costume pieces and an interactive play card for your little one to create their own fairy tale. Each box presents the opportunity to empower early explorers to “try on” a new imagination!
Tip 5: Discover the Lost Art of Snail Mail
Switch things up from regular books to practice reading and give your kids something to look forward to every week (and trick them into reading more!). With Snail Mail for Kids, a letter arrives from Sunny the Mail Snail with a silly new story about his adventures, fun animal facts and even his worldly travels. The first mail delivery even includes a stuffed animal and a letterbox to keep all of Sunny’s letters safe!
Tip 7: Learn a New Language Together
Pass on a love for language to your child and learn a new dialect together. With the Sol Book Box you can learn how to speak in Spanish with baby story books that are either bilingual or all in Spanish. This fun reading activity is perfect for bicultural/bilingual families or parents who want their child to learn a new language!
Tip 8: Teach Your Child Values Through Reading
Raise responsible children by teaching values early on. Ourshelves is a monthly book subscription that delivers high-quality picture books featuring ethnically and racially diverse characters. The boxes also include reading activities to keep the conversation going.