Co-author: Julie J. Huh
Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT, published Reclaiming Conversation last year about the disappointment and feelings of isolation humans face in an era where more are opting to live in the realm of social media. She worries that face-to-face conversation without depending on social media is on the decline.
She says, “Parents give their children phones. Children can’t get their parents’ attention away from their phones, so children take refuge in their own devices. Then, parents use their children’s absorption with phones as permission to have their own phones out as much as they wish.”
But it is through these face-to-face conversations where children develop empathy.
One simple solution that we will discuss in this post is reading to your children: let’s have a look at how this can be beneficial in 5 ways.
1. Reading to your child helps with language development
Reading aloud or shared book reading fosters young children’s ability to develop language skills. Such practices at a young age significantly help children to prepare for school because children begin to learn how to associate written words to sound. Such associations depend on simple, beginning practices. For example, holding a book or turning pages with children. Furthermore, reading aloud helps children learn different speech patterns, which will set the foundation for their ability to manipulate the different sounds of spoken language.
2. Children exposed to reading early tend to develop stronger learning skills
A key aspect to language and literary development is learning how to learn. Strong learning skills are critical to deepening one’s knowledge. Reading aloud to young children teaches them these skills because it makes them more aware of difficult concepts. For example, abstract and logical concepts, such as cause-and-effect or beginning-middle-end, help children understand more about time, while assessing a character’s actions help children learn about moral principles. In addition, reading early helps children retain better memory and makes them more disciplined to stay focused on what they are learning. While toddlers may initially be distracted, the continuing practice of reading aloud could significantly help them learn to stay put for the length of the story.
3. Reading to children is highly likely to cultivate a love for books in them
According to a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading aloud to children in elementary schools have a direct impact in fostering a child’s love for reading. The report concluded those being read aloud to at home, from ages 6 to 10, read more frequently than their peers. In an environment where adults loved to read, the love can be passed down more easily than adults who spend less time passing the love down to their children. The report also concluded that once children learn how to read independently, reading together fosters an even bigger love for the young reader.
4. It helps children develop their imagination and creative skills
According to Rebecca Bellingham, an Instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Columbia University Teachers College, when parents and teachers read to children, they “decode” reading, which allows children to think freely about the story themselves. When children experience how words can come “alive” in books, they gain the power to imagine.
Interestingly enough, the word “imagination” comes from the Latin word imago, which means picture. As children learn to read, they learn to create different pictures in their minds of how the world looks like to them. To build mental pictures and memories is the key to create and make art. The sooner a child learns to read, the sooner they can acquire the tools to create and imagine.
5. Reading together can create a stronger bond between you and your child
One way to express love for children is to read together with children. By reading with children on a daily basis, parents can pass down their love for their children because they are actively seeking to communicate with each other through books. When fond memories of reading together are formed, children rely on these memories to further deepen their love for reading when they begin to read independently.
Try for yourself, and unlock the power of reading to your kids.
Suggested novel our readers love:
Edward Graves: Temporal Detective, by DoctorAsh (children/ sci-fi)