“A book is a gift you can open again and again,” Says Garrison Keillor, a famous American author, and most children would agree, especially if they can enjoy it on the laps of their parents. Snuggling up, listening to your mom or dad read your favorite tale not only releases feel good hormones; it also helps you to relax, fall asleep easily, and it makes you feel special and loved, creating wonderful memories of a childhood filled with fantasy and adventure.
This special moment of bonding between you and your child also provides excellent opportunities to use stories to:
- Talk about morals and values.
- Help your children find words for their feelings especially during times of divorce, bullying and trauma.
- Develop critical thinking by posing questions for discussion.
- Problem solve solutions to world issues by chatting about them.
- Focus on new words, their meanings, and how they are used in a story, helping expand your children’s vocabulary.
- Introduce your children to figures of speech such as sarcasm, similes and metaphors.
- Show how punctuation works in making sense out of words.
- Use rhythm and rhyme to stimulate your child’s brain.
- Practice listening, concentration and comprehension skills as your children listen to find answers to questions you pose about the story, or to find out what happens to characters in the story.
- Encourage your children to use their imaginations to make predictions about what will happen next in the story, developing their creative thinking skills.
- Teach your children to order their thoughts and focus on the sequence of events by asking them what happened first, second, next in the story.
- Help them develop their speech as they talk about the story and other interesting things the story inspires.
- Encourage a love of reading, setting them up for success both at school and in life. Research supports this fact.
It doesn’t matter if you are not a great reader yourself, start with simple books and watch your own reading skills improve as you read to your child. Use audio books and follow the story in a book. As Dr. Seuss suggests: “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Embrace your inner child and make reading to your children a fun time of the day, rather than viewing it as a chore. Everyone loves listening to a story from the baby in utero to adults who will attend a book reading of a famous author. No child is too old to be read to, even if they are able to read. Let your children have a say in the books you read and take them to your local library to choose books.
Young children often want to read the same story over and over again because it provides consistency and predictability, which makes them feel secure. Be patient and let them get more involved in reading the story, especially over time.
Remember this special time of the day with your children is about more than reading. It is a time for them to attach to you, especially if they have been separated from you all day, and as Katherine Patterson, a child author advises, “It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations–something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.”