Take a trip down memory lane for a moment. Do you remember when you were little, and you heard a story that wrapped you up in a whole other dimension... An imaginary world constructed from words, but that might as well have been real — that you could almost touch, smell and that you could most definitely feel? Do you remember all your favourite stories? Did the twists and turns of fate that transported the characters in those stories ever teach you something about your own life?
Reading, yesterday as today, is a powerful thing. It’s important, especially for young children whose minds are developing, to be exposed to books, and the reasons why are both practical and intangible.
The Practical Benefits of Reading
Vital Language Skills
In its most basic form, being able to read is a vital skill to functioning in modern day society. Language skills are essential to acquire, and acquire at a young age, if a child is to successful complete their schooling and move on up in the world. The more you read to your child, the more naturally reading will come to them. It’s as simple as that.
Story telling is at the heart of communication, and hearing stories teaches children about communication. Characters in books are interacting, and they display feelings like fear, anger and happiness. All these interactions are being soaked up by a child as they listen to a story and interpreted. A child learns to better communicate simply by observing how it’s done in books.
When you read to a child, you are feeding their curiosity. Not only that, but the more you read to a child, the more they learn and the more they understand. There are so many educational books out there disguised as storybooks. You can teach your child about anything from gardening to outer space, just by reading them a story.
When you engage a child in a story, you are forcing them to concentrate their minds on one topic for an extended period of time. The more your child practices concentrating, the better they will become at it. This will help them develop key competencies like attention span and memory retention that will serve them well once they start school.
Grammar & Vocabulary
Reading to a child will help them expand their vocabulary. Every story you read will have new words for them to learn and savour. When you are reading, and you come across a new word, check in with your child to make sure they understand it’s meaning before moving on. Often, a child will be able to figure out what a word means from its context, but it doesn’t hurt to reinforce that learning and it’s also a fun exercise to ask, “What do you think this word means?” or “What word is the same as this one?”
The Intangible Magic of Books
Imagination and Wonder
Academics are all well and good, but the real magic of books lies in their ability to inspire our imaginations. As a child reads or is read to, they imagine brave new worlds and give life to characters in their own minds. The experience is without compare, and what is childhood really without wonder?
Making Sense of the World
The world is a big, complicated place, especially for the little ones that live in it. Books help them make sense that place. Stories can explain simple societal concepts like saying please and thank you, or more complicated ones like choosing a career. In short, books help children make sense of the world around them.
As a child learns through reading, they are able to do things that maybe they couldn’t do before. For example, my son learnt about gardening from books that we read, and now he waters the plants on our balcony all by himself. This task allows him to practice his independence and makes him feel confident. Books can build independence and so much more.
Easy Entertainment & Joy
What was the purpose of stories in the first place? Well, if you go really far back, stories were a method of preserving history, but they have also always been a form of entertainment. Stories are enjoyable. We love to hear about new characters and be shocked and awed at plot twists. Children are no different. Stories bring so much joy into the lives of our little loves, and we should give of that joy generously.
The time you spend reading to your child is truly quality time. Who doesn’t treasure childhood memories spent ensconced in covers come bedtime, when mom or dad would crack open our favourite storybook, and read to us until our eyelids drooped and finally we fell asleep. Story time is such a special gift because of the time you are spending with your child, and it’s not just fun for them either... Read your little all your favourite stories and revisit your best childhood memories in the process!
At Petit Loulou, we are strong advocates of reading. We love words and books — the stories they tell and the thoughts they inspire!
For recommendations on all our favourite books, check out our Story Time blog series, where we share a new book and our thoughts on its contents! Start with our most recent Story Time post on Normal Norman and work your way backwards for more great book ideas.
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