Learning to Read for Young Children
Advantages & Benefits of Learning to Read Early
There has been a lot of hype and attention when it comes to the development of young children. Teaching children to read has also been a main focal point for many parents. It's widely known and accepted that reading has great benefits, and this extends to young kids as well. Because of this, there is a myriad of products marketed to parents with the aim of helping them teach their children learn to read, and there are even some products that claim to teach babies how to read.
Can reading really make you smarter? Is there evidence to back this up? In short, it does - reading helps you develop great vocabulary, verbal skills, and a greater command of general knowledge. We have an article here, discussing this topic in detail, so I won't discuss it more here.
In an interesting article by Phyllis Porter, the author discusses the brain's development and the pruning of synapses. Synapses allow neurons to form circuits within the central nervous system, and are crucial to the biological computations that underlie perception and thought.  Within the brain, there are millions of neurons or nerve cells that connect to each other through synapses, and these are the pathways that makeup the brain. New synapses are formed quickly in the early stages of life where there may be over 1,000 trillion synapses in the brain by 8 months. However, these synapses are pruned away as a child grows, and the formation and retention of these synapses is greatly affected by a child's early experiences.
Only the connections and pathways that are used often are retained, and those that are not used are pruned. In other words, the more we engage our brains and "exercise" our brains, the better it retains its functionality, and what's a better way to stimulate early brain and intellectual development than learning to read and developing literacy skills?
In a meta-analysis study, the researchers looked at a number of studies relating to print exposure from infancy to early adulthood. They focused on preschool children up to students in grade 12 and university. Their meta analysis revealed a strong correlation between print exposure and reading comprehension, reading, and spelling skills. Their study revealed an upward spiral of causality where children who are proficient at reading will read more, which leads them to read more and get more print exposure. This leads to greater reading comprehension and spelling skills with each additional year of education. They also found that frequent readers are more successful students. 
These findings are consistent with many other scientific studies. The process of learning to reading and the volume of reading done plays a direct role in stimulating brain and intellectual development. The correlation is clear: the more we use our brain, the better it gets, and the more we read, the better and more proficient we become at reading and spelling with greater vocabulary and verbal skills.
Children who learn to read early on will have a huge advantage over their peers who have not had the opportunity to learn to read early on. They achieve greater reading proficiency, and generally go on to perform better academically.
1. Synapses - Wikipedia
2. Early Brain Development
Phyllis Porter, M.A.
3. Psychol Bull. 2011 Mar;137(2):267-96.
To read or not to read: A meta-analysis of print exposure from infancy to early adulthood.
Mol SE, Bus AG.