I don’t think anyone needs convincing that learning to read is a necessary life skill. Reading aloud to kids is a crucial part of motivating them to want to learn to read. It’s probably also the easiest and most fun way to motivate them. For many people happy memories of being read to as a child are vivid and lasting.
Parents need to take their cue from their kids as to when to begin the transition from best-loved picture books into chapter books. Some kids have the interest and listening stamina for chapter books at an early age and some don’t acquire what it takes to listen to text without lots of visual support until later.
There’s no particular benefit to starting kids on chapter books young – except to give parents a break from something they may be getting tired of reading – but urging kids into longer books before they’re keen for them can undo all the good the parents have been doing by reading to them in the first place.
If parents take their kids to the public library early and often, they’ll find an almost unlimited supply of good picture books to enjoy together, and it will be obvious, when the kids start showing an interest in the chapter book shelves that the time is right to begin the transition.