Having volunteered with kidsREAD and spending most of my Saturday mornings reading to my class of 7 to 8 year-olds, I realise that reading to children allows us to understand more on our own child's learning styles.
Some children are visual learners. They absorb new words and sentences through looking at the words and figuring out how to read them and to make sense of them.
Others are aural (hearing) learners. They pick up words quickly based on how you pronounce them. Hence, it is important how we read and speak to children as they also pick up the correct and incorrect pronunication from their environment. I have children who cannot read sentences well due to their weak foundation in English but their ability to repeat accurately the word I just read to them was uncanny!
Some children learn by touch and their senses (kinesthetic) which makes them seem fidgety and not able to sit down quietly to read their stories.
All these types of learners can benefit from parents spending time to read to them. :-) Reading stories to children helps visual learners as they can also follow the words and illustrations or pictures in the storybook. Aural learners pick up new words and sounds that are fascinating to them and they relish repeating the choice words and phrases. Kinesthetic learners can interact with pop up books and role play some of the characters and animals in the book.
Reading stories to and with children also allow parents to bond with their children. I can still recall the stories that my father read to me while I was five or six years of age. The story was about a polar bear called Puck. Whilst the details of the book escape me, I can still remember my father's voice reading to me the story. It still warms my heart everytime I remember the time he spent reading to me. Your child may have similar memories when he grows up so invest in his memories now! ;-)
Children develop a life-long love for reading if it is seen as a fun family activity and not homework or a chore to be completed. We can engage our child's sense of fun and excitement about discovering new worlds and situations in stories that engage our intellect and emotions at the same time. We as adults soon re-discover the joy of reading and finding out with our child the excitement of finding out how the story develops.
So parents, go visit the nearest National Library branch and stock up on a lifetime of memories for your children!