The Power of Consistency: Raising a Reader and Cultivating Bonds

The art of storytelling has its roots deeply embedded in human history, and it remains an integral part of our societal fabric. However, in our increasingly digital age, the value of a simple, consistent act such as reading with a child – a daily story time, can often be overlooked. But don’t be fooled. The impact of this quiet, shared time between parent and child can have profound and far-reaching effects. After all, there’s a reason why there’s no ancient proverb that says, “The family that scrolls through their phones together, stays together!”

The Science of Reading and Bonding

There are a lot of studies indicating that reading to a child is not just about literacy; it is also about forming a strong parent-child bond. And we have written extensively about this as well: Vocabulary Development for Children – Building A Strong Vocabulary through Reading,The Benefits of Reading with Your Child Regularly: It’s a Page-Turner!, The Secret to Raising a Reader: Creating a Reading Routine with Your Child, etc.

A 2015 report in the journal “Pediatrics” concluded “in preschool children listening to stories, greater home reading exposure is positively associated with activation of brain areas supporting mental imagery and narrative comprehension, controlling for household income. These neural biomarkers may help inform eco-bio-developmental models of emergent literacy.” In other words reading to young children activates parts of the brain that help with mental imagery and understanding narrative – both of which are key for language development.

Beyond language development, reading with a child aids in forming emotional connections. Children who have been read to more frequently at an early age enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, which are critical indicators of future academic success. Moreover, reading with a child also facilitates shared attention and promotes a nurturing, supportive environment which is crucial for their emotional and social development.

The Consistency Principle

Consistency, in this context, refers to the regular practice of reading together. Even setting aside 15 to 20 minutes every day to read with your child can make a remarkable difference. This consistent effort shows the child that reading is valuable, and more importantly, that their learning and development is a priority.

A study published in the Developmental Psychology (2020) examined the interrelated and longitudinal impacts of parent–child shared book reading, parenting stress, and early relational health, as measured by both parental warmth and parent sensitivity, from infancy to toddlerhood. shared book reading at 6 months was associated with increases in observed and reported parental warmth and observed sensitivity and decreases in parenting stress at 18 months, controlling for baseline risk factors and treatment group status. These findings suggest that early parent–child book reading can have positive collateral impacts on parents’ stress and the parent–child relationship over time.

Children who experience more routine parent-child reading in early childhood exhibit higher reading interest and skills in later childhood and adolescence.

Reading: A Lifelong Gift

By incorporating consistent reading into your child’s daily routine, you are setting them up for a lifelong love of learning. This early exposure to books, stories, and the rhythm of language lays the foundation for a strong reading habit in the future. As the child grows older, this habit can provide a significant advantage in their academic and professional pursuits.

A study called Developing and Sustaining Reading Habit Among Teenagers published in the Asia-Pacific Education Researcher found that that a key factor for reading ability stems from the home and choice of early childhood education. Children who had been read to consistently as young children had a greater likelihood of becoming frequent readers in adolescence. Moreover, frequent reading in adolescence was associated with a higher level of education in adulthood, illustrating the long-term benefits of this simple act. According to the same study later on as out kids become teenagers, although parental encouragement sustains interest in reading, the greater force seems to be from peers with similar interest.

Cherishing the Memories

Additionally, the shared memories created during these reading sessions can become a cherished part of a child’s upbringing. These memories can be a source of joy and comfort and can contribute to a strong sense of family identity and belonging.

Research in the field of neuroscience has shown that positive, shared experiences – like reading together – strengthen neural connections in a child’s brain, contributing to their overall cognitive development and emotional well-being.

Reading consistently with a child is a simple yet powerful act. It not only fosters literacy and cognitive development but also builds strong parent-child bonds, setting the foundation for a child’s social and emotional health. In the long run, this consistent practice also instills reading as a natural, enjoyable activity, promoting a lifelong love of learning.

So, let’s turn off the electronics, pull out a favorite book, and spend some quality time reading with our children. The benefits of this simple act can reverberate throughout their lives, shaping them into confident, connected, and literate individuals.

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