It has been proven time and again that the benefits of reading to children are exponential. When you sit down and read a book to your child there is a bonding that takes place that is irreplaceable. It is a soothing and loving thing to spend that one-on-one time with your child. Reading is also calming to the spirit. It settles you down, lets you relax, and if you're doing it at nighttime like we do, it is a great way to bring positive closure to the day.
Reading also helps children recognize sounds and letters, improve their vocabulary, and helps sharpen their listening skills. It also encourages a child's imagination, which brings me to Dialogic Reading. Countless studies have been done that prove Dialogic Reading takes learning for children even further. When you allow your child to be an active participant in the reading...when you encourage them to ask questions, when you allow them to engage in the storytelling (whether they can actually read or not), it allows them to become absorbed in the whole learning process.
In Early Childhood Research Quarterly, there was a fun and informative academic study done by Anne Hargrave and Monique Sénéchal that showed a marked level of increase in vocabulary for all children who regularly participate in reading (of any kind, including traditional shared book-reading). There was also irrefutable documentation from the study that proved children who were regularly engaged in Dialogic Reading were consistently shown to receive [significantly] higher scores on standardized expressive vocabulary tests than children who were not.
So while you may have heard reading is good for your children...if you delve into the studies just a little bit, you'll find heaps and tons of proven studies that show just how good for them it really can be. What a fun and easy way to help your child gain a practical and academic edge in life.
The other book is pretty extraordinary, I have really never seen anything like it, and it's called DC Super Heroes - The Ultimate Pop-Up book. It was created by Matthew Reinhart, and if you haven't heard of him, I suggest taking a look at his website. His work is better than fantastic. There is the huge pop-up picture in the center of the page (Batman's page has a light-up Bat Signal that never fails to amuse and entertain us), and then there are little pop-ups on the corners too. It's really an incredible book to have in your library, especially if you have a child who has a "thing" for super heroes. (which at the moment we definitely do). This book would also make a GREAT gift idea!
It doesn't matter what type of book you get, or read to your child, just so long as you do it. It's such an easy and warm way to get that bonding time in, that also doubles as a huge knowledge-based benefit for them...and it really doesn't take a lot of time. We read throughout the day sometimes, but part of our going-to-sleep routine is spent reading a good book or two, and it usually takes only about half an hour or so. The intrinsic gains you get cannot be measured (there's just sometimes special about reading with your little ones) but the external gains your child receives will become apparent too. Kids who read regularly simple learn more and learn faster than kids who don't. The time to act then, is now. Scoop your little one up, grab a book, and let the learning begin. You'll be glad you did, and your child will be too.