Can I say it again?
Reading a bedtime story to your kids from an early age, even in the womb! convinces them that books are lovely things. Books mean snuggles, pretty colours and the favorite sound of a parent's voice. At first, reading aloud is difficult for most of us. That's why it's great to begin when your kids are young and not too picky! You can start with simple tales and rhymes, and in no time you'll be reading like Ian Mckellen! He reads the "Wolf Brother" audiobook series by Michelle Paver, and it's excellent. Chas is addicted.
Reading to your child improves their vocabulary better than any other educational activity, including fancy computer programs. It's a fact.
Some kids learn to read simply by being read to: the words and sounds match up for them. Other kids who are read to tend to read on their own earlier than their peers, a valuable head start when even solving math problems requires reading and comprehension skills.
Reading often leads to discussion, and helps you to understand your child better. WHY are they so into that book about dogs? Is it helping them to deal with fear? Do they love their toy dog best? Later on, serious topics can be covered: I still read to my eleven-year-old, often newspaper articles or chapters from a book I'm reading, if it's science related. He loves it, and will race off to google "Hadron Collider". He likes to know what's up in science news, but there's no way he'll read the newspaper himself. Yet!
Read the classics: Greek Myths, Fairy Tales, Shakespeare For Kids, it's all good. Collections of stories are easy to find.
Reading nursery rhymes repeatedly helps to develop a good memory.
Kids doing a topic at school? Get stories and informative books with lots of pictures and Enrich, Enrich, Enrich the syllabus.
Many bedtime story collections have SHORT entries, so that you don't have to spend half an hour reading aloud. Five minutes is great! We even had a book called "Three-Minute Bedtime Tales" for those nights when I had laryngitis or was in a hurry.
Reading a story is a useful way of coping with issues. Anything from "I Can Use My Potty" to the morals of C S Lewis' Narnia Tales can help kids (and parents) to think about emotionally charged topics. Avoid scary stories at bedtime, though! Save them for the morning. And DON'T read scary stories to young or sensitive kids, stick with the happy stuff.
Check out the internet for interesting sites like this one, for much more on how children learn to read and how being read to improves intelligence, communication and social skills.
Visit your Library, if you've got one! Reading can cost nothing, and takes less time than washing the dishes. There is no excuse. READ TO YOUR CHILDREN! Start tonight.