It's important to expose kids to new words at a young age to help build their vocabularies. Most parents think this can be accomplished simply by talking directly with their children. Speaking with kids will improve their vocabularies to a certain degree, but they will be limited by the words their parents know. A new study has found that reading aloud to kids can have a bigger impact on their lexicon than talking to them.
Books tend to have more extensive vocabulary usage than people do when they speak to each other. According to a study from the Journal of Literacy Research, by reading aloud from pictures books, parents are exposing children to unique and rare words that are not found in the most common 5,000 words in the English language. Exposure to these new words can help build a child's vocabulary because simply hearing the words makes it more likely children will use them in the future.
Socioeconomic background benefits
Reading aloud to children at a young age can potentially help diminish the vocabulary gap between high- and low-income families as well. According to a study by the University of Kansas, children from higher-income families will have heard 30 million more words within their first four years of life than children from lower-income families. This stark difference displays how kids from financially secure homes are more likely to develop more complex vocabularies because they are introduced to a variety of words at an early age.
Reading aloud to children from picture books can help reduce this vast difference by allowing children to expand their vocabularies past those of their parents. It also has the potential to increase children's IQ scores because exposure to words and language can expand cognitive function. Understanding language also gives children the opportunity to more fully comprehend the world they live in.
Building up a child's lexicon can also help them when it comes time to learn how to read. Since they've already been introduced to a lot of words they are trying to read, they'll be able to make more of a connection with them.
Aside from building a child's vocabulary, reading is simply enjoyable and a great way for parents to get one-on-one time with their kids. It's also an opportunity for children to expand their imaginations by hearing about new worlds and characters. For children who are learning English as a second language, Education.com noted that reading books aloud can help kids become familiar with the sound and shape of English words.