The Powerful Effects of Reading Storybooks with Your Child

Reading storybooks is one of the most beautiful experiences you can have with your child. If you feel you do not spend much time reading to your child, I encourage you to stick around. Check out the myriad of ways storytime can and will impact your child and their language development. 

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Enhances Language Development

Not only will you find that reading time enhances language development, but it also sets the stage for important self-regulation skills. These skills will be greatly beneficial to your child as they grow.

Reading storybooks with your child amplifies the types of experiences that predict language learning! We see that stories contain language that may even exceed the power of simply talking to your child! Because of the richness of vocabulary and complexity of grammatical structures found in storybooks, your child reaps language development in a different way than in everyday conversations.

New Vocabulary Used in Different Ways

Children get the opportunity to hear new vocabulary words while engaged in storybook reading. They also get a chance to hear those vocabulary words used in different ways. 

Often times, books written for children include sentences that are short and concise. However, they are rife with a rich vocabulary that is not commonly used in oral language. 

We also see that these rich vocabulary words are used over and over again and sometimes in different positions of the sentence. 

Interesting Facts about Language Development during Reading Time

  • Did you know that your child acquires new receptive vocabulary after a single readthrough of a book? 
  • It has also been found that pre-literate children acquire new vocabulary from listening to stories read more than once even when there is no explanation of the words meaning
  • Parent reports of shared reading time consistently show up as a robust predictor of children’s receptive and expressive language and vocabulary

That just goes to show you the power of storybook reading on language acquisition and development! That’s pretty incredible to realize that just reading to your child unlocks a certain capacity to enhance their vocabulary in the early stages of life. Not to mention, nourishing the ability to express themselves more clearly in the future!

Promotes Joint Attention

Joint attention simply means shared attention between you and your child on the same object or topic. Reading storybooks with your child promotes joint attention. Joint attention holds a lot of salt when it comes to building self-regulation skills. It’s almost as the mere act conspires to help them gain the skills to maintain their own attention.

Books are relatively stationary meaning it provides a focal point. As your child is focusing, you have a unique opportunity to build on it with commentary. This will further foster their language development. 

Children who are actively engaged in joint attention show to have faster rates of cognitive development. Responsive language and mother-child interactions used during storybook reading were found to project out to other cognitive competencies developed later in life. This includes competencies such as their mental ability, school readiness skills and vocabulary and mathematics performance.

Increases Engagement with Word Meanings

Reading storybooks helps children learn language because it requires them to participate and engage in responsive interactions with you. This is the perfect time to give your undivided attention to respond to their interests. You get the opportunity to engage in conversations about the book’s content. Explore the 5 w’s (who, what, when, where, & why). You can also respond by mentioning the personal experiences of your child as it relates to the story. When you participate in conversations that move away from the book, you engage them in a language-based activity that highlights the vocabulary found in the book as well as a more diverse set of sentence structures. This is called dialogic reading. 

Dialogic reading makes storytime a more ‘up close and personal’ experience. When done correctly, this method yields the highest benefits as far as language development goes (Dickinson et al., 2012).

I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you did, please leave a comment below or contact me. Instagram @thinkbeyondliteracy or on TBL’s community Facebook group at

Be sure to check out the six principles of language development and reading books with your child to learn more about your child’s language development.

6 Principles of Language development and reading books with your child two parents and a child sitting together on a couch with a book
6 Principles of Language Development and Reading Books with Your Child
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Dickinson, D., Griffith, J., Golinkoff, R., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2012) How reading books fosters language development around the world. Child Development Research, 2012, 1-15.

Harcrave, A. & Sénéchal, M. (2000). A book reading intervention with preschool children who have limited vocabularies: the benefits of regular reading and dialogic reading. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15, 75-90.

Robbins, C. & Ehri, L. (1994). Reading storybooks to kindergartners help them learn new vocabulary words. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 54-64.

Sénéchal, M. & Cornell, E. (1993). Vocabulary acquisition through shared reading experiences. Reading Research Quarterly, 28, 360-374.