Excerpt taken from Ch. 2 – Reading by stage of Once Upon A Reader

We all know how important routine is in our own lives. This is nothing compared to the importance of a child’s routine in keeping them settled and helping their parent feel like they’re in control at least some of the time!

Making sure that books are part of that routine comes with countless benefits: it can help settle them for bed and it’s a relaxing activity you can do together, as well as helping them to associate reading with something fun and comforting, which will help to ensure they continue that positive relationship with learning as they grow. However, on a closer look, countless studies suggest that regularly reading to your children can have real and lasting effects on their ability to read and write, not to mention helping them to develop their ability to retain information, giving them a real head start for school and further education.

The authors of Handbooks of the Economics of Education Vol. 1, who include Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman, suggest that throughout a child’s development “skill begets skill”, which means that as children learn to do one thing, no matter how basic it seems, this can help them develop faster in another area. This building on their abilities stacks together building blocks to create a steady foundation for further learning as they progress into adulthood and beyond.

This theory can be found in many of the basic developmental milestones we see in small children, such as their ability to make nonsensical noises that develop into words and then into full sentences. From there they learn to associate those sounds with letters, then words and then sentences on the pages in front of them and then, suddenly, they’re reading! It seems like a simple progression, but once we acknowledge the logic of it, we can start applying it to other areas, because anything we can do to help develop a child’s basic skills should be encouraged.

In the time before children start school, the simple act of reading to them every day is doing more than you might think, without having to buy any specialised equipment or read complicated child development books to try and get ahead.
Building the framework for success at the same time as developing your relationship with your child is one of the best things you can do for them and yourself and, luckily, having fun reading together is something that does both.

Once Upon A Reader: Raising Your Children With a Love of Books by Lorraine Levis is available here.