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Reading to children: How to raise a good reader and why it's important

It could be one of the most important things parents do with children

In a national survey of parents, 71 percent of them said they wished their kids did more things that did not involve screen time, such as reading books. 

Reading builds language skills and is correlated with success in school, better behavior and even a closer parent-child relationship. So it's well worth the extra effort to "raise a reader."

In this busy world, reading together is a chance for parents and kids both to slow down. 

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents to read to their children early and often, and that creates these lifelong skills," said Dr. Tiffany Munzer. 

Munzer is a developmental behavioral pediatrician at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. She's also a mom. 

"Creating a child who loves reading depends a lot on the parent, like initially," she said. 

For babies, it's important to make it fun and be flexible. 

"It's totally OK for kids to chew on the book, throw the book on the ground or turn the pages. And it doesn't have to be this structured reading experience for you reading every single word on the page," said Munzer. 

As kids grow, make sure books are constantly available and tap into other things they enjoy. 

"Just figuring out what you child's interests are and tailoring that reading experience around it. Like if they are really into cars, then pick books about cars and talk about those," said Munzer. 

Don't limit books to bedtime. Read cookbooks together when preparing meals. Comic books or reference books, such as the Guinness Book of World Records," count, too. And be sure to let your kid choose what they want to read. About 80 percent of kids said the book they liked most was the one they picked themselves. 

Also, make sure your kids see you reading. 

"Kids learn so much from their parents' modeling, so even watching you read ... they will pick up on that skill. Like, my mom loves reading or my dad loves reading, and so this might be something that I might be into as well," said Munzer. 

Munzer said reading is one of the most important things parents and kids can do together, even it's just 5 minutes a day. It has lasting effects on a person's life and gives parents a great ability to have an impact on their child's life. 

Finally, don't stop reading to your children once they learn to read on their own. In a recent scholastic survey 83 percent of kids said they loved being read to aloud. About 40 percent of kids ages 6 to 11 said they wished their parents still read to them.