Reading out loud to kids doesn’t just improve their emerging literacy skills and fuel their imaginations. Reading together is also a great way to relieve stress and anxiety—for parents and children alike.
Books: The Ultimate Stressbuster
Just how effective is reading at relieving stress? According to a study from the University of Sussex, reading for as little as six minutes reduces stress levels 68 percent among adults, making a good book more of a stressbuster than music, walking, or video games.
Studies on children tend to focus on the educational and imaginative benefits of reading out loud to kids, but there’s no reason to believe reading doesn’t lower a child’s stress levels just as effectively. Reading out loud before bed has long been known to improve sleep patterns in children, which suggests it has a comforting, stress-reducing effect.
Why Does Reading Reduce Stress?
The author of the University of Sussex research noted reading is much more than a pleasant distraction from the worries of the world. When reading, we challenge our imaginations to create the events described on the page. This engagement drags our attention away from real-world stressors and focuses the mind in a way other forms of relaxation simply cannot.
Reading out loud to kids distracts them from their own concerns and anxieties just as effectively. Reading with kids offers them the comfort of family interaction, while exposing them to real-world problems and solutions in a safe, non-threatening environment. It’s a win-won situation for both parent and child.
Reading Out Loud to Pets
Right now, your child may be a prereader, listening as you create funny voices for fairy tales and slowly learning to recognize letters and how to handle books. Once she learns to read to herself, reading out loud doesn’t have to disappear from her life. Encourage your child to read out loud—to you, to younger siblings, or even to the family pet.
According to Reach Out and Read, reading out loud helps children cope during difficult or stressful times, all while practicing their reading skills. Even if the audience is the family dog, your child gets to take on the role of reader, which increases her self-esteem and encourages her to read even more. Success builds on success.
So grab your child’s favorite book, snuggle up, and read out loud. You’ll all feel better for doing so!