Why reading with your child is important

As I write, we are in the middle of BookTrust’s annual Time to Read campaign, which aims to get children and families reading together. This is one of a few annual campaigns of a similar theme –National Storytelling Week (February) World Storytelling Day (March), National Share-a-story month (May), Reading Together Day (July) and National Tell-a-Story Day (October). But why all the fuss around telling stories out loud and reading together, especially after children can read independently?

Reading with your child encourages reading for pleasure

Reading with your child is important for a number of reasons. Studies show that a growing number of children no longer read independently for pleasure, with other activities such as gaming, social media and browsing the internet seeming so appealing to young minds. Reading together, however introduces children to reading as a pastime, a relaxing, enjoyable activity that they can do outside of school for fun, rather than for homework.
Whilst it is important for children to develop independent reading skills, reading together vs reading independently shouldn’t be an ‘either/ or’ situation, as BookTrust explains.

‘Having to decode longer words can disrupt the "flow" of reading, making it feel much harder than watching a film or playing a game. By reading with your independent reader, you can remind them how great it is to get lost in a story.’ - BookTrust

Reading aloud together also opens up lots of possibilities within a book. You can actively involve them in the story by encouraging them to read passages to you, too; do silly voices; or discuss important themes the book might bring up.


Reading to children supports cognitive development

Cognitive development refers to how children begin to understand and figure things out in the world around them. Reading aloud to a child is one way to encourage children to start making sense of the world around them, filling their brains with knowledge gathered from books.
When children are read aloud to, research has shown that the parts of the brain associated with extracting meaning from words are stimulated.

‘In preschool children listening to stories, greater home reading exposure is positively associated with activation of brain areas supporting mental imagery and narrative comprehension’. - Official Journal of the American Pediatrics

So by reading together for pleasure, you are continuing to help your child develop and understand the world. Isn’t that amazing?


Reading together is a great way to bond with your children

Parents lead such hectic lives, and finding time to read together can be difficult. However, reading books doesn’t have to be an activity resigned to bedtime! You can try reading together over breakfast, on the bus, or whilst dinner is cooking. Once you’ve found a time in the day which works for you, take the chance to snuggle up and spend some quality time with your child and a book.
Research suggests that reading together improves intimacy between parent and child and can also act as a way to improve communication. More than half of parents use books as a way to get their children to open up to them, by exploring themes together through reading.
What’s more, reading together has plenty of benefits for you, the reader, too! Reading helps you to reduce stress, relax and can make you sleepier (perfect for bedtime!).

Try and find some time to read together every day (if you can!), and join in the celebrations for BookTrust’s campaign here.

Need to stock up on books to read together? Here are our favoruites for bedtime:


A wonderful story about the power of sharing, perfect for reading together! 

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A beautfiful edition of Aesop's beloved fables, brought to life by Susie Brooks and Amanda Enright.

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Engage young readers with this spellbinding retelling of some of the most gripping tales from Greek Mythology.

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Old Bear's beloved adventures are the best bedtime reading. 

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Perfect bedtime reading, this book was the winner of the inaugural Stratford-Salariya Book Prize 

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A delightful book to read together, this book is another winner of the Stratford Salariya Book Prize! 

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When Queen Elizabeth II loses her corgis, her grandchildren search Buckingham Palace, the grounds and the city of London to find them, on a humorous and fast-paced adventure. See if you can spot them hiding throughout the book!

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