Reading Aloud To Kids Has Major Behavior Benefits

by Thea Glassman
Image via monkeybusinessimages/Getty

Reading aloud to your children benefits their behavior and attention

We all know reading aloud to children can offer plenty of advantages, but a new study shows it can actually have some very important behavioral benefits — so you’re probably going to want to start perfecting your various character voices ASAP.

A new study titled “Reading Aloud, Play, and Social-Emotional Development” determined that reading to children doesn’t just improve their literacy skills. It can also help kick issues with aggression, sadness, and the inability to sit still. Researchers determined this by surveying 675 families, with kids up to the age of 5 years old. Parents were videotaped reading and playing with their children, and then got to watch their interactions afterwards.

“It can be very eye-opening how their child reacts to them when they do different things,” Adriana Weisleder, a co-author of the study, told The New York Times. “We try to highlight the positive things in that interaction — maybe they feel a little silly, and then we show them on the tape how much their kid loves it when they do these things, how fun it is — it can be very motivating.”

The results were pretty incredible. A year and a half later, the children who participated in the study were less likely to exhibit behavioral issues like hyperactivity and aggression. Are you suddenly reaching for literally all the books on the shelf?

“The key take-home message to me is that when parents read and play with their children when their children are very young — we’re talking about birth to 3 year olds — it has really large impacts on their children’s behavior,” Dr.Alan Mendelsohn, one of the study’s primary researchers, noted to the Times. “All families need to know when they read, when they play with their children, they’re helping them learn to control their own behavior.”

It’s also worth remembering that reading aloud doesn’t have to stop after kids hit the 3-year-old mark. In 2017, Scholastic released the “Kids and Family Reading Report,” which surveyed children and parents about their reading habits. Liza Baker, the executive editorial director at Scholastic, told The Washington Post that she found family reading time can be more about the bonding experience, rather than a literacy lesson.

“As they become independent readers, we tend to let them go, but even kids in older demographics love nothing more than that time with their parents,” she said. “We’re blown away that kids time and again said the most special time they recall spending with a parent is reading together.”

Basically, reading time has a whole lot of hidden benefits for both parents and kids. It also means you have an excuse to reread Harry Potter and not feel weird about it. So, yeah. Do it. Do it right now.