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7 Benefits of Reading With Your Kid Beyond Academics

Sure, reading aloud to your child is a good way to set him up for academic success later on in life. But the benefits of reading with your kid extend beyond academics. Story time can help expand your child’s imagination, prepare him for new life experiences, and even develop empathy. Basically? Reading can only benefit your kid’s development.

As a lifelong bookworm, I may be a bit biased toward the celebration of books. But don’t take my word for it: plenty of scientific studies back up these claims. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research proved a “causal effect between the frequency of reading to a child and his or her development.” Just a few minutes of daily reading can make an impact. And child care experts support reading as well. “[The] bigger picture now is to help parents build interactions with their children into their everyday lives because this can create nurturing relationships, which promote early brain development, early literacy, language development and school readiness,” Perri Klass, national medical director of Reach Out and Read, said in the American Academy of Pediatrics. From vocabulary growth to sensory development, books will only give your kid a boost.

1. They Introduce Kids To New Words

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Books are a natural way to introduce your children to a rich vocabulary. According to research from professor Dominic W. Massaro, reading books aloud is one way to help your kid encounter new words that might not crop up in common conversation, as explained in EdSource. Even the simplest story books often include literary words that you may not say out loud very often.  

2. They Encourages Bonding Time

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Story time also affords you and your child some crucial bonding experiences. "It's one of the most pleasurable activities that you do with your child — there's physical closeness but it's probably the most unhurried time that children have with their parent and it is focused on them," Dr. Barry Zuckerman, professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, told CNN. And in a super-busy world, a parent's undivided, loving attention is precious.

3. They Prepare Kids For New Experiences

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What's a great way to prepare your child for the first day of kindergarten or the arrival of a new sibling? Books. As explained on Early Moments, reading a book about your child's new experiences can help him process the stress and excitement of  life changes. This is a great habit to carry over into adulthood. I mean, chances are you read a parenting book or two when you found out your little one was on the way.

4. They Help Kids Develop Empathy

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Books encourage you to see the world from other perspectives. According to Great Kids, books can help children consider the point of view of people who grew up in backgrounds and situations different from their own. This early development of empathy may help set up your child for a more open-minded future.

5. They Stimulate Imagination

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Your kid's capacity for imagination is awe-inspiring (and sometimes baffling). According to Reading Is Fundamental, books can help develop those imaginative thoughts even more. After all, what's childhood without a little whimsy and adventure?  

6. They Stimulate Senses

Books are a multi-sensory experience. According to Psychology Today, books can help your baby develop listening, visual, and tactile senses. Yes, even when she's chomping on the edges of a board book, she's still learning.

7. They Turn Kids Into Lifelong Readers

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Many adult readers first discover the joys of books by sharing story time with their parents. As Read Aloud noted, just reading to your kid for 15 minutes each day may help set up the foundation for a lifelong love of literature. Your daily story time ritual may be a habit that your kid holds dear for the rest of his life.