The Benefits of Reading to Children for 20 Minutes a Day

 Life has a funny way of getting in the way of itself.  I am dismayed at the number of life-giving activities I don’t engage in each day, simple gestures that bring a smile not only to my face but also to those I interact with.  In today’s segment of our Life’s Essential Ingredients series, I am looking at how to meaningfully connect with my children through reading to them.  Tomorrow, I will look at another facet of this idea:  Connecting with one person outside of my immediate family each day.

7. Read to my girls for 20 minutes each day.  According to an article, “Why Read 20 Minutes a Day?”, reading aloud to young children has several benefits: it develops the brain, teaches listening skills, improves reading ability, increases earning potential, and improves relationships.  When my boys were younger, we read together for hours each week.  As the girls came, the hours of the days seemed to compress, and often I could barely manage to muddle through one book before my eyes would blur and my words would slur.  “Mommy just needs to close her eyes for a couple of minutes.  Then, I’ll read the next book,” I have said, more times than I can count.  Just last week, it led to a twenty minute nap, while the children sat next to me, quietly looking at the books I had promised to read.

The thing is, I LOVE to read to my children.  One of our favorite places to frequent is the library, where we pile up mounds of books on our table, then lug them home in bulging bags, with great intentions of reading each and every one.  For the boys, who are avid and advanced readers, they fly through their selections.  Their only complaint is that there is nothing new to read.  But, for my girls, the books languish on the shelves, often looked at, but mostly unread.  I just never seem to have the time to read them, but that’s not true.  I just haven’t made it a priority of late, and I intend to change that.

Like I said, reading to my children brings me great joy.  I have such fun making up voices for characters, creating an engaging tale with the inflection of my voice, enjoying a good laugh, and exploring new worlds.  Most importantly, though, that time is precious because it draws my children to my side, where I can smell them, snuggle them, and smother them with love and attention.  I don’t have to make them come; usually, if I start reading, all available children will clamber up on the couch, pushing and shoving to get as close to me as they can.  Sharing a great story with them is one of the most wonderful experiences we have together.

So, I am committing myself to 20 minutes of reading each day, not only to improve their cognitive skills, but to improve my connection with them and to express love to them in a tangible way.

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3 thoughts on “The Benefits of Reading to Children for 20 Minutes a Day

  1. Great topic. I love how you simultaneously give us why and show us how you work to fit this into your life. My children are older now, but I remember the feeling of guilt and of not being able to given everyone what I felt they needed. By breaking this down to twenty minutes a day, you’ve made it concrete and attainable. One thing I would suggest which also works really well (for reading and as an alternative to parental guilt) is audiobooks. This is not suggested as a substitute to our own invaluable efforts but as a supplement for crazy times. My entire family used to listen to them on road trips in lieu of TV. Brian Jacques Redwall series is especially vivid and diverse. Great post.

    1. Thanks, Tonia! I agree about the audio books. Until our CD player broke in the van, we loved listening to audiobooks on both long and short drives. My girls have a bunch of CD/book compilations that they frequently play at home on their little, pink boombox:) I will check out that series; thanks for the suggestion!

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