The Creative Mama welcomes Rachel Rothe with today’s guest post.
In high school, I was in a read-aloud volunteer program that matched teens with little buddies in a local elementary school. The little buddies had been identified as those who had minimal to no read aloud time at home.
Paired with a little girl named Ashley who was quiet and shy, I saw a sparkle in her eyes when I read to her. This exclusive time of sharing stories with her boosted her confidence and taught her that she mattered.
When children are read to, they are transformed. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing this throughout my life and now see it as I read to my own dear daughter.
There are several compelling reasons to make reading with your child a daily practice.
1. It Will Bring You Closer
All too soon, our little baby birds grow up. They’re flying off, exploring and leaving the nest. Each time you set aside time to read to your child, you make a connection. Reading together shows our kids that we’ve created this time and space just for them; we value them, and they are important. Holding your child close when you read is an expression of love.
2. Reading is Brain Food and Promotes Academic Excellence
In a Huffington Post blog recently I read a fantastic post entitled, “5 Good Reasons to Take Your Kids to the Library Today” by Christine French Cully. In the post, Cully talks about how reading helps brain development especially in your child’s first five years of life. “When kids are read to, their brain cells are literally turned on, and existing links among brain cells are strengthened and new cells links are formed.” Reading really is brain food.
Furthermore, reading to little ones gives them a higher aptitude for learning in general. Studies have shown that kids who are read to before preschool are more likely to do well in all facets of formal education.
3. Reading Gets Kids to Take Interest in Life Outside Themselves (and Strengthens Emotional Intelligence)
One of the most compelling things about books is that stories transport us outside ourselves. From an early age, children are dialed into this phenomenon whether they realize it or not. Kids observe their favorite storybook characters face obstacles along their journeys. They watch and wonder how those characters will overcome adversity, and they learn lessons that they might apply to their own lives.
Reading has been proven to help develop good communication skills, more empathy and greater understanding of others. Stories get a child out of his own shoes and into the shoes of another. By cultivating awareness, compassion and good listening skills, reading can teach one how to be a good friend. Friendships throughout our lives are instrumental to our wellbeing and happiness.
4. Reading Inspires Independence
The more you read, the more you know. The more you know, the more resourceful you become. Children learn this early in their reading lives: As a developing reader, a child comes to understand that anything can be learned from reading the right book. Knowing how to gain knowledge fosters creative problem solving and self-reliance.
Encouraging kids of all ages to choose their own library books and use their own library card are both very empowering acts for a child. When I take my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Skylar to the library with me each week, she eyes the racks and finds books that appeal to her, that she’d like to take home. Then when we go to check out, I sit her up on the tall library desk and I take her library card from my purse and remind her to give it to the librarian. Skylar beams at this transaction especially when the librarian thanks her and tells her how helpful she’s being.
5. Reading is Insurance Against Bad Moods and Boredom
Reading is a refuge, a source of entertainment, and a mood booster. As long as a child reads, no doors are closed to her and there is no world that cannot be entered. Not only can reading alleviate a bad mood, it can also bring on the giggles.
Many of the picture books we read together include some very humorous characters. What child wouldn’t laugh when they see the wild eyes of Mo Willem’s hot-dog-party-and-bus-driving-obsessed pigeon or the quick-witted, bald-headed baby in Leslie Patricelli’s board books like Tickle or The Birthday Box? As my daughter always says when she laughs and points to a silly character on the page: “It’s really funny!” A sense of humor can be developed through witnessing the antic dispositions of some beloved children’s book characters.
Few things say, “I love you” like the precious time loved ones spend together with children digging into a good book or two, or three … When reading together becomes a habit, children will enjoy a lifelong love affair with books and learning. If every child were scooped up to nuzzle mom, dad or caregiver and read to each day, what a wonderful world it would be.
Rachel Rothe is a writer and creator of Porridge at www.justwritemommy.com. She’s also a freelance copyeditor and marketing consultant. Rachel lives with her husband and daughter in a seaside town north of Boston. A few of her favorite things include children’s vintage books, community supported agriculture, yoga, collecting sea glass, Wes Anderson films, and just about anything reminiscent of Provence, France. Her favorite holiday is Easter. You can follow Porridge on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook.