(June 2012) by Dr Stephen Barker

The answer is certainly YES!

The developing mind is a fertile place in which to grow ideas. A child’s imagination should know no bounds and their potential in life is a wonderful resource that should not be squandered. Encouraging your child to become a life-long reader is one marvelous thing you can do which will help them towards a healthy, fulfilling and happy life. All children should have the opportunity to be read to by an adult, best of all by a parent. Take time from babyhood onwards to read to your child. Going over simple picture books will increase fluency and understanding. Then continuing to read to a child will help brain development. At an early age, it doesn’t really matter what content or format is used; I have seen wonderful “picture books” available for i-Pads. A half-hour spent reading with your child is vital bonding time, a time for communication beyond just what is being read, and it is probably this that has the most significant health benefit. Because an adult reading to a child, or simply reading for himself, also provides a moment’s break from the stresses and strains of daily life. Reading can keep your mind in shape too – using different areas of the brain from those used for more mundane day-to-day activities.

Reading is a vital tool for children, stimulating their inquisitive minds and allowing them to communicate more effectively with the world around them – skills which are associated with improved health outcomes.

So take time to read to your little ones from the earliest age. Join them up with the local library (an affordable way to find lots of new reading material), and be involved with your child if they are struggling with their reading. It is probably one of the most important things you can do for them.

Show by example – be a regular reader yourself and have books in your home.