Did you know: Reading to your child for 20 minutes a day can increase their chances of graduating high school, going to college, and even increase their lifetime earnings?

Despite this: Only 18% of new parents read to their children for 20 minutes a day. (In The Book Reading Survey, 2020*)

The benefits of reading to your child are limitless. Developing their social skills, sparking their imagination and forming the foundations of their learning abilities are core benefits of reading to children. The advantages of reading are essential for working life, and cultivating these basic needs in infancy helps children avoid the under-achievement gap that can arise from neglected basic skills.

*When I worked at children’s book publisher In The Book, we got some advice from experts and commissioned a reading survey to see how many parents actually read for the recommended 20 minutes a day to their children. The results were poor: only 18% did! Here, we’ll go into detail on the numerous benefits of reading to your child, then look at the statistics and what the experts say.

Contents (click to navigate):

parent reading to child

8 Benefits of Reading for Children

  • Better communication skills
  • Basic speech skills
  • Enhanced concentration and discipline
  • Cultural understandings
  • Higher academic performance
  • Nurturing the parent and child bond
  • Conquering the fear of a classroom
  • Enhanced development of senses

Let’s run through each of these benefits in more detail.

Faster Development of Communication Skills

The best children’s books they remember are the narratives they relate to in some way. As most children’s stories aim to explore multiple environments such as home life, school, day to day experiences or fantastical worlds, children are in turn exposed to various characters. 

Helping your child find similarities or explaining differences to them whilst reading helps them relate to others in a healthy way. By exploring different cultures and nationalities through a range of stories, your child will gain a better understanding of how to communicate with their surroundings.

Faster Development of Basic Speech Skills

Have you ever heard that children learn languages easier during infancy? This is because children retain the ability to distinguish the foreign sounds as their speech is forming during their most apt learning age where 85% of a child’s brain evolves fastest up to the age 5 than any other period in their life. It’s even more likely for a child to learn a second language if it’s spoken and used by their parents. Phonetics teach the sounds of the basic alphabet and every time you read to your child or ask your child to read, you are reinforcing that bond between sounds that form basic language.

Enhanced Concentration and Discipline

Children seem to have an endless supply of energy. Kids may initially fidget and become distracted during story time but eventually, they’ll learn to settle for the duration of the story. 

Routine reading at bedtime or allocated reading time teaches your child self-discipline and provides stability through achievable routines. Longer attention spans and better memory retention are key benefits of reading to your child, just before or during bedtime, allowing for a cosy and concrete sleeping pattern.

Top Tip: Set aside 20 minutes each night for storytime, and it’ll become routine!

Cultural Understandings

Books are not only worlds where kids can lose themselves but where they can learn about different cultures and customs, develop social skills and help them go on to affect positive changes in the world around them.

Higher Academic Performance

One of the single-most beneficial advantages of reading to your child is that your child will develop a higher competency for learning in multiple environments. Each day is brand new for your child where they can learn anywhere between 10 – 50 new scenarios, interactions or experiences. Numerous studies have shown that students who are exposed to reading before reception are more likely to achieve higher under every branch of formal education.

We highlight the true educational, and financial, benefits reading has on your child’s life in the next section. As Dr Genevieve London, MD and pediatrician at Maine Medical Center explains, you should start reading to your child as soon as they’re born!

Nurturing the Parent and Child Bond

Kids are constantly on the go. As your child grows older, they’ll be running about non-stop. Their natural curiosity causes them to become little explorers, constantly searching for something new. 

Cuddling up with a storybook at bedtime or a set time in the day provides routine and stability, essential for children as they learn best through gentle repetition. This is where reading becomes a nurturing activity between the parent and child, instead of a task or chore. Ultimately, story time will bring the two of you closer together.

Conquering the Fear of a Classroom

The first day at school can be scary; a brand new building and new faces are a lot to take in. Reading at home with your child gives them the advantage of reading out loud in a classroom as they will already be prepared by the home environment. The repeated act of reading every day reinforces their reading ability, building their confidence and allows your child to feel comfortable when reading out loud in the classroom.

Enhanced Development of Senses

The physicality of a book is fascinating, from the mesmerizing illustrations to the feel of the paper itself. Having tangible materials to work with when reading means the child can physically interact with the book. 

Early learning board books are specially designed for excitable hands that like to grab and throw their toys around, which just adds to the fun of story time. Touch and feel books are filled with physical sections children can press to register new sensations and musical books combine sound and song for an immersive reading experience.

The Correlation Between Literacy Skills and Graduating High School

The 90% Reading Goal states that 77% of children reading at a second to eighth-grade level at the beginning of third grade will graduate high school. Only 27% of children reading below this level will graduate.

This directly translates to an increased chance of graduating high school and higher lifetime earnings.

Fielding concludes that “a mom or dad, sister or brother, who reads twenty minutes a day with a child from birth can first increase their chance of high 3rd-grade reading skills and then of high school graduation. When a child graduates high school, the child’s probable increased lifetime earnings increase by $220,000.”

However, this was from data taken from the World Almanac and Book of Facts (1998, 95): for earning levels by education levels. With adjusted inflation, in 2020, high school graduates stand to earn over $351,000 dollars more than dropouts.

Research done in the UK indicates a similar trend. In The Value of Basic Skills in the British Labour Market research undertaken in 2007 states that “Level 1 literacy is associated with having 15% higher earnings”.

What the Experts Say

One of the biggest advantages of reading to children we believe in here at Local Book Donations is reading for pleasure has limitless rewards

Alison David is the Consumer Insight Director at Egmont and author of Help Your Child Love Reading. I asked her to weigh in with her take on the benefits of reading back in 2018, and she was very vocal on the multitude of positive results reading has on a child’s well-being:

“There are so many wonderful things that reading for pleasure brings to children beyond academic success: comfort and reassurance, confidence and security, relaxation, happiness and fun. It feeds their imagination, helps them to empathize, it even improves their sleeping patterns. And reading is a really important element of family life. It provides a connection between you and your child from the very early days through to teens and beyond. It’s a strong ‘glue’ for your relationship, bringing you closer together through the sharing of reading and stories. It helps build strong family ties and provides a shared set of stories and experiences which are unique to your family.”

Alison David, Egmont Publishing

Dr Genevieve London further explains the advantages of reading to your child in infancy, on the downloadable podcast, Reading To Your Child Has Benefits That Last a Lifetime:

“I recommend starting to read as soon as a child is born. Early exposure to language, to the written word is beneficial, not just to literary skills, but also in developing healthy parent-child interaction so it’s really crucial from the very beginning.”

Dr. Genevieve London

The monetary value reading to your child has on their adult life is statistically proven to be advantageous in adulthood, but the simple benefits the act has on your child are equally immeasurable.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss

Storybooks are doorways into multiple magical worlds from the comfort of your own home. Reading to your child helps develop a natural love of learning, causes them to be fascinated by knowledge and fuels their imagination. Kids who are exposed to reading from a young age are more likely to succeed in later life.