When I was younger, I loved reading with my mom. I would pick out a book and curl up with my mom on the couch, snuggling underneath a quilt. She pointed to the illustrations, the words, read to me in different voices, and we laughed together.

I loved having my mom read to me when I was younger. Because of these memories alone, I know I want to share these same experiences with my children. Reading for pleasure or enjoyment is one of the main reasons kids are interested in learning to read, and they learn this from an adult demonstrating how fun it can be.

Why should you read to your child? These are my top 6 reasons. Read to your child because reading together:

6. Increases the chance of becoming a successful reader. About 25 years ago, the Commission on Reading, funded through the U.S. Department of Education, researched what works and doesn't work in the field of reading. In their report Becoming a Nation of Readers, the commission declared: "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children" (23). Since this report, many more studies demonstrate the importance of reading aloud. What parent doesn't want their child to have "eventual success in reading"? Reading aloud is proven to help.

5. Promotes academic success. In The Read-Aloud Handbook Jim Trelease recounts the story of Christopher Williams, which was originally published in the New York Times in 2003. Christopher earned a perfect score on the ACT exam without any test prep program. Trelease summarizes: "His mother and father had been giving him and his younger brother free prep classes all through their childhoods, from infancy into adolescence: they read to them for thirty minutes a night, year after year, even well after they learned how to read themselves" (xii). The parents passed onto their children a love of books and their children thrived in school.

4. Builds background knowledge. Through reading about distant places and different eras, children can be exposed to things that are out of their realm of experience. I've never had the opportunity to travel across the Atlantic Ocean or even the Rocky Mountains, but when I read about people who live there, I can see life through their eyes and understand the experiences of people different from me. You can travel mentally to scenes on the other side of the world without leaving your home, experiencing life vicariously through someone you have never met. The more you read, the more you know; the more you read, the better reader you can become. When you read new information, you need to connect it with something you already have filed away in your brain. In her article entitled What every teacher needs to know about comprehension, Laura Pardo states, "The more background knowledge a reader has that connects with the text being read, the more likely the reader will be able to make sense of what is being read" (273). Because of reading aloud with you're child, he is much more likely to understand new information when he read on his own.

3. Grows imagination. While reading or listening to stories, the recipient relies on the visualization in their mind to understand the scene the author paints with their words. This trains your brain to employ imagination and critical thinking, as opposed to television, video, and other visual stimulants that provide you with the visual cues to decode meaning.

2. Builds a relationship. As I was one of six children in my family, I savored any solitary moments with my mom. Reading together was a natural and enjoyable way to spend these moments. My mom got to know what types of books interested me and as I grew older we continued to talk about what books we were reading.

1. Is enjoyable. It's human nature to want to repeat pleasurable experiences. The converse is also true; when reading is tied to negative experiences, they will withdraw. When you show a genuine interest in the material and you're having fun with them, your children will be jumping at the chance to experience that again.

No matter what circumstances you are in, find a way to read to your child and encourage caregivers to do the same. Take 10-15 minutes out of your day to regularly read, whether before bedtime, after a bath or after a meal; make it a habit so that your kids don't miss out on these benefits. You can start any time, even in vitro, and keep reading! Choose books that interest them and they might still let you read to them when they are in high school. Good luck and keep reading!

About Author / Additional Info:
Pardo, Laura S. "What Every Teacher Needs to Know about Comprehension." Reading Teacher 58.3 (2004): 272-280. ERIC. EBSCO. Web. 27 July 2010.
Trelease, Jim. The Read-Aloud Handbook. 6th ed. New York: Penguin Group, 2006.