Why reading to children is so important
Experts claim that reading to children is important for various reasons. While most parents realise this is true, how many actually understand why parent-and-child reading is so widely encouraged? What does the child gain for the experience and what do parents, in turn, gain from reading to their children?
Any parent or carer can tell you that story time is the very best time of the day. It's great to sit and cuddle together, with no (or few) distractions and for more wriggly children or those who think they have grown too big for hugs, it can be especially precious. It's the chance to be close, to have each other's undivided attention and enjoy the moment together that's so special. On top of that it's a great chance to find out more about your child's likes, dislikes, fears and hopes. From a very early age children will show you their preferences in colours, pictures and types of story. They react to stories and their messages and look to you to validate those preferences and feelings. Talking through these things as the child grows up gives the chance to stay close, understand one another and have fun together.
Key early skills
The earlier a child experiences books and the concept of reading, the easier he will find it to begin to recognise the shapes of words and letters from an early age. Children are also more likely to develop a long-term love of reading. It is never too early to start! A child who develops the habit of reading alone and with his parents usually has an advantage when it comes to vocabulary, spelling, imagination, reading and writing at school.
Problem solving and facing difficult subjects
Every child will face little difficulties in life. Children will also see their friends and family experience problems from time to time. Some, in fact most by adulthood, will unfortunately face bigger issues too. Reading stories together helps children to explore ways to deal with these difficult issues and helps them to develop the skills to solve problems in their own lives. Seeing characters struggle with similar dilemmas, or even different ones from which lessons can be extracted, is immensely helpful.
A story book can explore a variety of issues, from small ones such as using manners and sharing with your friends to larger life changes like starting nursery, moving house and divorce. Even bigger issues which can be difficult to explain to a child, such as death, bullying and racism, can be addressed in story books which make the subject more accessible. Children can get intensely involved in these stories and while they can see themselves in the character's places the story offers a certain removal from the situation, allowing the child to observe as an outsider and explore the issue in a safe environment. You can walk away from a book if it gets too much, or talk it through and then go back to solve the problem. Those who continue to read into adulthood will find books still give that benefit – the ability to explore difficult subjects and situations within a controlled environment.
Some of the loveliest moments of parenthood include watching your child acting out stories you loved as a kid. Reading fires the imagination and fuels imaginative play, which is vital to child development. It can introduce a child to fantasy worlds or a different culture. Hearing and reading new (and old) stories expands the mind, introducing new ideas, words and concepts and developing the creative part of the brain.
This guest post was written on behalf of Notting Hill Editions who publish a range of gift books. You can find out more by visiting their website.