photo: Children’s Fairyland

You likely already know the tremendous benefits of reading to your kids, but what you might not realize is that how you read to them also matters. When parents read a certain way, they can help their kids develop intellectual empathy and become more successful. Keep reading to find out how your reading style can affect your child’s future.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading to kids can have major benefits, even when they’re still infants. Reading out loud demonstrates communication, strengthens your bonds, and lays the foundation for language development and literacy. The stronger kids’ language skills are when they reach kindergarten, the more prepared they are to become readers, explains Brown University professor Pamela High. “The better they read, the more likely they will graduate from high school,” she told the PBS NewsHour.

As Bill Murphy Jr., author of How To Raise Successful Kids, explains however, it’s not enough to just read to your kids, you need to read with them. In other words, it should be an engaging experience involving questions and discussion. Reading shouldn’t just be about helping your kids fall asleep or teaching them how to read, Murphy argues. It’s also about teaching them to be more “effective people.” Taking time to discuss and analyze a story as you read helps kids develop intellectual empathy, which means they are able to objectively understand how others experience things. This helps develop problem-solving and decision-making skills as they grow.

How do you read with your kids? Share your ideas in the comments.