Reading aloud to your children will have a huge impact on their vocabulary development, understanding of the world, ability to think, moral development, and encourage them to become independent, life-long readers. Just as little as 5-10 minutes per day can do wonders for a child!
We have started reading with all three of our children since they were babies. I think we usually started around 6 months. I am sure there are families who start to read to their baby on the day he/she is born. That is beautiful!
Almost every single night of their lives, our children have had bedtime stories. They look forward to it. I am usually really tired (exhausted!), but my husband has more energy and does the most reading. When I can, I enjoy reading bedtime stories with the children, too (they’re only little for so long, I tell myself, even if I feel like I might fall asleep while reading). Currently, my husband is reading The Lord of the Rings to our 8-year-old and 6-year-old. They read The Hobit aloud, and now they are enjoying this new adventure.
My husband is awesome at reading with expression. He is also very good at helping the children with comprehending books that are quite complicated. Each time before they start reading, he reviews what happened last. Then he re-reads the last 1-2 paragraphs of what was read the night before. Then if there is a lot of action or changing of scenes in the book, he pauses and asks the children questions to make sure they are following along. If they are not, he summarizes what is happening. I think it’s really important to not just “read words” to kids, but to have the back and forth of asking questions, reflecting, and summarizing content.
If you have never read aloud to your children who are about ages 6 & 8, I do not recommend starting with The Hobit or The Lord of the Rings! (Even if you, as an adult, love them.) You will need to build up to it. Start with some picture books that are age appropriate and at your children’s grade level and/or reading level (you will have to take both into account). Then select some books that are one grade above their reading level. Over time, you will find books that fit well, and will move into really rich chapter books. And you might be surprised that your children will be ready for long books much sooner than you expect.