Along with all the adorable outfits, snuggly blankets, and fun toys, you're often inundated with books for your little one the minute you announce your pregnancy. You may think that it'll be many months or years before your baby can enjoy them, but in actuality, it's really never too soon to start reading to your kids (provided you don't mind the fact that they won't always be sitting still or even listening). If you've been wondering about how reading early affects kids later in life, there are quite a few benefits.
According to Kids Health, reading out loud to your infant is an important way to stimulate their developing mind. It begins to teach your child about communicating and listening, and introduces them to ideas like letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. The more words they hear you speak or read to them as a baby, the more words they're likely to know by the time they turn 2.
Reading to your baby can also set them up for success when they're learning to read themselves. The Huffington Post reported that children who are read to on a daily basis test a full year ahead of their peers in reading skills. According to Parents, the benefits can even carry over into their other school work, as some studies have found kids who are read to have better math skills and even perform better on standardized tests. That could be explained by the fact that, according to Psychology Today, children who are regularly read to are exposed to a staggering 32 million more words than those who are not by the time they reach kindergarten.
According to NPR, children don't get the same benefits from hearing words spoken on TV — hearing human voices in person is much more effective. Sadly, this can put children from low-income families at a disadvantage as their parents are less likely to read with them. To help close the gap, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged doctors to give out books to low-income kids who come in for check-ups. A group of doctors in Boston even started a non-profit called Reach Out and Read, which now gives out 1.6 million books a year. Hopefully, they'll get used to a future in which all kids reap the benefits of early reading.