One of my favorite memories (that I’d love to recreate if I ever have children in the future) is my mom tucking me into bed, sitting down next to me, and reading to me until I fell asleep.
She’d do this every single night until I was able to read the big books all by myself.
As an adult, I know that this little ritual of ours has impacted me positively – for one, my love of reading and creativity doesn’t come as a surprise.
But what other traits come about from people whose parents read books to them as a child? Let’s explore further:
1) Enhanced language skills
As a former primary school teacher, it was always obvious to me which kids read at home vs those who didn’t.
Their vocabulary skills were so much more advanced. In writing, they’d use a variety of words and would be able to express themselves clearly and often, with flair.
And in conversation, random words that you wouldn’t necessarily expect an 8-year-old to know would pop up, always making me marvel at the power of reading.
Because 9 times out of 10, if I asked a child where they learned that word, they’d say, “At home when mom or dad was reading to me.”
And as adults, this shows in the everyday language people use. Those who were read to as a child (and continued reading into adulthood) tend to have more of a love for language and wordplay.
This potentially influences their career opportunities and interpersonal relationships – the better you are at expressing yourself, the easier it is to achieve what you want.
2) Improved empathy and emotional awareness
I remember as a child hearing a story called “Journey to Jo’burg”…It was about a little girl who left home to search for her mother who was working in Johannesburg.
She needed her mom to come home because her baby brother was sick.
I can’t tell you how upset and worried for this little girl I was. Even though it was a fictional story, my four-year-old little heart just wanted to hug the girl in the story and tell her everything would be okay.
And as an adult, this empathy hasn’t left.
You see, those early years as a child as extremely transformative.
People who were transported into story after story, character after character, would naturally learn to be empathetic and emotionally aware.
They’ve spent years connecting with different characters and identifying different emotions, and this continues into the real world.
3) Social-emotional skills
When we face a problem in life, whether that’s a difficult colleague or a mean sibling, we draw upon past experiences to help us solve the issue at hand.
But there’s only so much one person can experience in life.
That’s where being read to as a child comes in – you’re not just living your own life, you’re living thousands of lives.
Every story read takes you into a different world, where you have encountered a multitude of situations and their respective solutions.
That’s why such adults may be able to navigate social-emotional skills better than others.
For example, one of my favorite books growing up was called “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. It’s the tale of two women brought together under one roof by terrible circumstances.
At first, things were tense. They didn’t get along. But over time, they built an incredibly strong connection, one that freed them from their hellish living situation.
I often think about them when trying to navigate my own complex relationships – they were made up, but their actions and morals very much stand in the real world.
4) Cognitive and psychosocial functioning
When children learn to read, the first part is helping them with the letters and sounds. After that, we start testing their comprehension skills.
That means lots of questions!
“Why do you think Harry got mad when Ron didn’t listen to him?”
“Why do you think Charlie won in the end? What was it about the other contestants’ behavior that led to their downfall?”
Such questions encourage children to think analytically and critically.
It also teaches them to think between the lines and look for nuances. As adults, there’s no surprise this can help academically and in terms of career advancement.
5) Strengthened parent-child bond
A couple of years ago, I was speaking to a colleague about bedtime rituals. I told her about mine and asked if her mom ever read to her.
She looked quite sad and said that her mother was always busy. They were a big family and reading at night (or any time for that matter) was the last thing on a long list of priorities.
Now, I have to say, I’ve had my ups and downs with my parents, but our bond has stayed pretty consistent throughout the years. And I do attribute some of that to the fact that I had a very stable and consistent childhood.
Those evenings with my parents reading to me made me feel safe. And that’s what every child needs.
Because as we’re all aware, childhood attachment and environment are incredibly important.
Not to mention, those who were read to as children will likely do the same with their own kids, passing on the love for stories for generations to come and increasing parent-child bonds (which in an age of technology is just wonderful).
6) Increased background knowledge
Did you know that adults who were read to as children tend to have more interest in a wider range of topics?
As children, they encountered spooky sci-fi, romance, action, adventure and so much more through the different books they read.
They learned about the world in a way that doesn’t come from just watching TV or going out in your local area.
So it makes sense that as adults, they have a love for learning. They may have a better grasp of “general knowledge” and they enjoy trying out new things.
Their curiosity was sparked a long time ago, and it continues to run through them no matter how old they get.
7) Patience and perseverance
And finally, if someone was read to as a child, they likely have good patience and perseverance skills as an adult.
Especially if they made it through all the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series!
Those epic novels take time to read, and multiple stories are running alongside each other – so you have to read through less interesting bits to get to your favorite character’s saga.
So as adults, these people know not to give up straight away. When they pick up a book that doesn’t instantly grab them, they keep going as they know it might be a slow build to an awesome story.
This patience and perseverance carries through into everything else they do – work, relationships, and hobbies.