The Magic of Reading to Your Child:

Reading improves memory, concentration, reduces stress, and has numerous benefits that can span a lifetime. Books can bring entire worlds to life and allow children to safely confront new ideas. Living in a world of electronic communication and elevated screen time, this national holiday reminds us to unplug, switch off, and start turning pages. Entertainment is more than what you see on screen and hear through speakers; books are an interactive form of entertainment that can help develop cognitive skills and prepare your kids for the future. 

Several benefits of reading with your child include:

  • Expanding their vocabulary
  • Enhancing their imagination
  • Improving their grammar
  • Improving their writing skills
  • Building self-confidence and independence
  • Keeping them safe (by reading road signs and warning labels kids can understand when it says something can harm them)
  • Helping to make sense of the world around them
  • Leading to a greater chance of academic success
  • Less screen time

The life of a parent is hectic, but reading to your child every day, or almost every day, can have many benefits. Starting at just a few months of age, infants can recognize images, point to them, and are listening to your voice. You can start teaching infants the importance of language by pointing to an image while saying its name, which builds an association between the word, the image, and the real-world object. Children love listening to stories before they even know about printed words on a page. Reading develops language and listening skills as well as expands and encourages the imagination. Having diversity in the stories you read, even if they are complex, encourages kids to ask questions to understand. Even after your child can read by themselves, it is still important to read with them. If you have more than one child, you should try to spend time reading alone with them, especially if they are more than two years apart. This not only gives the chance for one-on-one interaction but also send a message: reading is worthwhile.

aIt may be a good idea to talk about the books you read, but don’t feel obligated to. A good story can encourage a love for reading without conversation. Sometimes, children need to talk about the story you have read to better understand the story, or apply it to the real world. Don’t be surprised if your child mentions something a few days later from a story you’ve read. Children sometimes favor a certain book and request it to be read night after night, this is not uncommon. Even though this might bore the parents, it can benefit your child’s reading ability. Easy or repeatedly read stories can become “old friends” and your child may even be able to help with the reading. Also, keep in mind that this favorite book might spark your child’s interests or speak to an emotional need.

liana-mikah-Puhj02KOHrc-unsplashAs adults, we sometimes forget about the magic and innocence of childhood. We have to open our eyes to things that adult readers take for granted. Here are some concepts to keep in mind as you help in your child’s reading development:

  • There is a difference between words and pictures, point to the words as you read them aloud
  • Words on the page have meaning, that is what we learn to read
  • Words go across the page from left to right, follow with your finger as you read
  • Words are made up of letters and are separated by a space
  • Each letter has two forms, uppercase, and lowercase
  • Punctuation at the end of a sentence can convey emotion and change the meaning of a sentence (question marks, exclamation points, periods)

You can make reading more appealing by combining the activity with something they love. Try going to the park and reading, build a fort and read with flashlights, or read in different voices! Another good idea is to include a snack. Author C.S. Lewis said, “Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.” You could even make your own snacks, baked goods, or throw a tea party! Reading inspires creativity and imagination, so have fun!

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Need some book suggestions? We’ve prepared a list of fun books!

Books for Children of all ages:

  • The Giving Tree- Shel Silverstein
  • The Children Who Loved Books- Peter Carnavas
  • The Book With No Pictures- B.J. Novak
  • Imogene’s Antlers- David Small
  • Chrysanthemum- Kevin Henkes
  • Guess How Much I Love You- Sam McBratney
  • Oh The Places You’ll Go- Dr. Seuss 
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs- Jon Scieszka
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!- Mo Willems
  • If You Give… (Series)- Laura Numeroff
    • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
    • If You Give A Moose A Muffin
    • If You Give A Pig A Pancake
    • If You Give A Pig A Party
    • If You Take A Mouse To The Movies
    • If You Take A Mouse To School

Older Children’s Books:

  • Magic Tree House (Series) – Mary Pope Osborne 
  • Charlotte’s Web- E.B. White 
  • The Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis 
  • The Polar Express- Chris Van Allsburg 
  • Little House on the Prairie (Series)- Laura Ingalls Wilder 

The Children’s Museum features the Goodnight our World Book Series (by Adam GambleMark JasperCooper KellyAnne Rosen, and Ruth Palmer) in the Gift Shop!

 

written by Karma Maule

 

 

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