The Benefits of Reading to Little Children

· September 28, 2018

Reading stories to little children is an encounter between the reader, the child, and the author. It’s a practice that has so many benefits. It helps to stimulate and develop children’s imaginations. Also, it helps foster a calm space for them and the opportunity to strengthen relationships.

Are there more psychological benefits to reading to little ones? The answer is a resounding yes. The habit of reading to little children facilitates the development of some of their cognitive abilities. These include memory, creativity, and empathy, among others.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you read to children is that the stories should be entertaining, diverse, and, most importantly, be read just before bedtime. Next, we will explain everything that this lovely ritual entails.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

-Walt Disney-

Reading to little children facilitates the process of symbolization

Symbolization, or the symbolic process, is the ability to create meaning through images, words, stories, or phrases. It’s the act of representing anything with the help of a symbol.

When we read to little children, we help them generate mental images related to the stories that we’re telling. In other words, we help them be able to symbolize and give shape to words.


Dad reading to his kids.

Reading helps develop the theory of mind

The theory of mind is the ability to represent our mind and others’ minds. In other words, it’s the ability to think how someone else thinks. It’s the capacity to adopt someone else’s perspective and consider reflections, desires, and points of view from within that perspective. When you read a story to a child, they have the opportunity to think like the characters. They consider what they would do if they were in that situation.

What’s more, the theory of mind allows humans to anticipate situations. It also prevents egocentrism because it allows you to imagine you’re someone else. Children develop this ability around the age of 4, but when we read to them we facilitate its development.

“Reading is merely a surrogate for thinking for yourself; it means letting someone else direct your thoughts.”

-Arthur Schopenhauer-

Reading fosters imagination

When you read to children, you help them create new spaces in their mind. When they listen to stories, they imagine themselves transported to other worlds. In other words, they build fictitious scenarios. Consequently, this fosters decontextualization, or the breaking of mental rigidity, through imagination.

Reading encourages scaffolding

The concept of scaffolding is common in developmental psychology. It refers to orientations, help, and information that children get from their parents or educators to guide their development. In other words, scaffolding is the basic structure on which we build larger and more significant structures.

When we read stories to little children, it helps them reflect and think. As they listen, they resolve some of their hanging questions. What’s more, the protagonists’ stories very often have important life lessons.

Mom reading a bedtime story.

Other benefits

As you may have seen, reading to little children has many benefits. To the ones we already mentioned, we can add the facilitation of the comprehension process, increased vocabulary, and, of course, increased empathyReading offers the opportunity to discover new points of view.

The habit of reading to little children encourages their development. It also lays the groundwork for cognitive structures and functions that they will develop later. Reading a story is so much more than that. To read is to travel, to create magic between the reader and the listener. To read is to give a child wings to fly.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends. They are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

-Charles William Elliot-