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20 Minutes a Day:
The Positive Effects of Reading Aloud to Children

As parents of young children, we should all strive to achieve the positive effects of reading aloud to children by reading to our children for at least 20 minutes a day. Twenty minutes equates to approximately 2 4 stories, depending on the reading level of the child. The good news is this 20 minutes of reading time can be cumulative, which means it can be broken up through out the day 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there.

Ideally, the 20 minutes of reading time should be one-on-one reading per child. Obviously, the more children in the family, the harder this becomes, but we should strive for 20 minutes of one-on-one reading time for several reasons . . .
First, in your effort to obtain the positive effects of reading aloud to children, the age difference of your children can make it difficult to read to them together in an enjoyable setting for ALL parties involved . . . including yourself. I have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old and even though they are brothers who live in the same household, they have different interests. Even when there is a common interest, the 2-year-old's books aren't very engaging to the 4-year-old because they are too simplistic, and the 4-year-old's books are too involved for the 2-year-old. I continually have to stop the 2-year-old from turning the pages too soon because he is at a different stage in his reading aloud development.

Certainly, "family reading" is also important for its positive effects of reading aloud to children too, contributing to such things as learning to take turns, sharing, and forging a strong bond between siblings, but family reading need not be long and should be in addition to one-on-one reading with each child.

Second, one-on-one reading provides the perfect environment to bond, connect, and communicate with each child in the family, certainly all positive effects of reading aloud to children. I learn more about what my son does in preschool after we have finished our one-on-one bed time reading than during any other time during the day.

I pick Eric up from preschool and ask what he did that day and all I get is, "I don't know." But after we have our one-on-one reading and Eric is relaxed, quiet, and secure in our bond, he opens up about his day and what he did during preschool.

Finally, one-on-one reading is also the perfect informal teaching environment, one of the foremost positive effects of reading aloud to children. Hopefully, our children get daily story time at school, but a classroom situation isn't always the best environment for children to get their questions answered that are burning in their minds.

All young children love to ask questions when they are read to because they all have curious little minds. Reading one-on-one provides children with the best opportunity to ask all the questions they want about the pictures, the story, or whatever may be burning in their minds. One-on-one reading really is a special time with just mom, or dad, or whoever may be reading, and we can, and should, take advantage of all these "informal" opportunities to teach our children with each question they ask.

Never underestimate the positive effects of reading aloud to children for just 20 minutes a day!

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