The connection between pretending and literacy is strong. When pretending, children learn to use imaginary objects or simple objects to stand for real objects (e.g., a child may pretend a broom is a horse, or pretend that a paper towel roll is a fire hose).
In addition, children learn that words are symbols that represent what we want to communicate when first learning to talk. It's similar to learning to read in that a child must understand that letters are symbols that represent the sounds in words.
Children learn reading skills when we encourage them to “make believe”. For example, when children pretend play, they learn how to use their imagination. This will be an important tool for your child to use when they are older and they begin to read chapter books that don't have pictures.
Research has also found that children who pretend on a regular basis have a better understanding of stories, develop more complex language skills, get along better with their friends, solve problems more easily, develop better self– control, and are more creative.
Did you know that children start pretending between 13-18 months? They begin by pretending on themself. You may notice a child at this age who will feed themself with cup/spoon and pretends by making eating actions and sounds. Alternatively, you may notice your child pretending by sleeping on doll’s bed/pillow, sitting on doll’s chair, or dressing themself with doll’s clothes!