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Being active and playing outside are important for the development of children. Using various forms of technology helps children gain skills that are helpful going forward. Having hobbies and interests help children gain self-awareness.

However, there is one important skill and activity that seems to be dwindling – reading.

Reading has a wide variety of benefits for children. Dr. Barry Zuckerman, professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, stated that children who are exposed to books at a young age have better vocabulary, pay attention and concentrate better, have higher literacy and are better prepared for kindergarten.

Numerous studies show that young children who are read to tend to do better in formal education. Furthermore, the toddler and preschool ages are crucial for language development. Reading a variety of books and hearing new words, rhyming words, etc., can help strengthen the language development that is taking place. This also will roll over to speech skills.

Reading also can be a bonding experience for children and their parents. Toddler and preschool-aged children are usually on the go – walking, running, jumping, playing. Reading can provide the opportunity for the parent and the child to snuggle and read a good book. The special time spent reading together will likely strengthen the relationship, which often leads to improved communication skills and other social skills.

Reading also can provide relief to an anxious or scared child. Transitions are tough for children, whether it be transitioning from diapers to the potty, staying at home to preschool, or preschool to kindergarten. The great thing is that there is a huge selection of books related to these topics.

Choosing a book that is related to things currently happening in the child’s life can open up the floor for conversation and help children understand and communicate their feelings. There are also books about manners, friendship, biting, hitting, kicking, etc. These books come in handy as a way to deal with unwanted, yet developmentally appropriate behaviors.

The next time you’re at home, consider snuggling up with your child(ren) and reading to them. Not only will you get to sneak in some snuggles, but you’ll be setting the foundation for a bright future.

Brittany Nissley is the child care director at Carlisle Family YMCA.

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