Why you should read aloud to your child

It’s common for adults to overlook the importance of reading aloud to young children, but the activity is more essential to early childhood development than parents may think.

Reading aloud to children stimulates healthy cognitive and emotional development. Early language and literacy impacts children’s ability to focus, set goals, control impulses and self-regulate activity levels. Consistent reading aloud with parents and caregivers not only helps children to build essential language skills, but improves the likelihood of lifelong happiness and success in school.

Parents who read to their children are practicing serve-and-return interactions that directly impact the healthy development of their young children’s brains. When children build early literacy and communication skills, they are more likely to begin school ready to pay attention, actively listen, get along with others and ultimately succeed.

Video Interaction Project, a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, reports that children who read with their parents on a regular basis are less likely to experience challenging behaviors like aggression, hyperactivity, difficulty with attention and more.

The project followed more than 650 families with children ages birth to 5 and used video to record parents’ interactions with children while reading aloud and playing. The study found that 3-year-olds who were read aloud to and had active playtime with parents were less likely to be hyperactive or aggressive. A year later, the same positive traits were still observed in the participating children.

It’s recommended that parents strive to read aloud with their children every day for at least 20 minutes. Adults play a critical role in bringing a story to life through animated noises, making illustrations and engaging in conversation about the characters and plot. When parents read to their children and engage in using imagination and creativity to play, they’re accomplishing much more than storytelling.

Reading to children supports healthy brain development and provides an opportunity to promote learning and labeling new feelings. Engaging in back-and-forth conversation while reading books with children also helps to establish a positive connection between books and reading.

Birth to age 5 is the most critical time to read with young children to help them build the language and literacy skills they need for lifelong success. Southwest Human Development programs like Reach Out and Read and Raising A Reader ensure that parents and caregivers have the skills and materials needed to help children with early literacy development.

Learn more about Southwest Human Development’s early literacy programs and services.


All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.