One of my most cherished childhood memories is of my mother reading the book The Cay to my twin brother and me, introducing us to the concepts of racism, transformation, perseverance through stress, and the power of friendship.
Happy good thing
Reading with my mom helped us feel safe, special, and loved. She called shared reading a “happy good thing.” She realized the benefits of shared reading for preparing us for school, but she also believed in the power of shared reading to create a sense of belonging. Reading became her favorite way to show us she loved us.
8 Benefits of Reading with Your Kids
Those many marvelous hours reading with my mom helped me develop a love of books I am passing along to my kids. Now, as a doctor, I can describe the science behind the magic of shared reading.
- Early Relational Health: As a pediatrician, I assess all aspects of health, including physical, social/emotional, and school health. The presence of safe, stable, nurturing relationships in a young child’s life builds a child’s confidence and curiosity and sets the foundation for all future learning and health. I read to my kids to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships so they can thrive.
- Early Brain Development: The most active period of brain growth occurs in the first three years of a child’s life. Children’s brains grow best from loving, responsive interactions with loved ones. I read to my kids to build their brains.
- Mirror/window: Books can offer a child a mirror of their own family, culture, and experiences to help them feel seen and understood. Books can also be a window for a child to learn about new places, people, and experiences. I read to my kids to help them see the world and to fuel their future dreams.
- Routines, routines, routines! When my kids were younger, their bedtime routine included bathing, brushing their teeth, snuggling with books, and singing a bedtime song to help them fall asleep. My kids knew our routine and letting them pick out books gave them some control and added to their enjoyment of the routine. I read to my kids to provide the predictability that helps them feel safe.
- Connections: Humans are designed to connect with each other. Sharing cuddly moments with my children builds our love and trust. I read to my kids to develop a powerful, lifelong bond with them.
- Fun: Reading is fun and enjoyable! Books provided a way to share laughter, spend time together and enjoy snuggles as we all cuddled close. I read to my kids because it’s fun and enjoyable!
- Milestones: As a parent, I treasured watching my kids’ first solid foods, first words, and first steps. Watching my kids learn to read in front of my eyes was my favorite developmental milestone and one of the most emotional moments of my life. I read to my kids to witness their amazing developmental leaps.
- Memories: The experiences we have as children help us understand ourselves, our worlds, our beliefs, and our values. Creating memories through quality time with family builds resilience for kids to be able to cope with stress and has been shown to decrease the risk of adult mental health concerns. I read to my kids to create joyful memories that last a lifetime and help them live a healthier life.
I’m so grateful to my mother for instilling in me a love of reading. As you read with your children, enjoy all those “happy good things.”