Help Your Child To Foster A Love of Reading
Reading! That little thing that we do every single day almost unknowingly but the one thing that children in the 21st century world, we are told, are doing less and less of despite it being the door to tomorrow. Reading is a necessary skill to help us understand our text driven world and yet try and get a teenager to pick up a book (or at least one who doesn’t like the idea) and you might as well be hitting your head on a brick wall. Tell them to read and they’ll shut the book. But why is reading important? Why do we need to encourage our children to read more? Why?
Reading is important at three levels:
3. Social and Emotional
Sounds complex it isn’t! But maybe by illuminating the reason behind the power of reading is one way to encourage our children to read more and essential for enjoyment. So why read?
1. At the biological level
Reading rewires the brain! It’s the little thing that connects neurons, bridges synapses and puts the zing into our minds to get them clicking, connecting and communicating! It expands our minds and promotes us. It transforms the brain literally as the words are read. Read part of a novel and the very next day there will be changes in the left temporal cortex which is linked to receptivity for language. It also heightens connectivity in the central sulcus which is the main sensory motor region of the brain which is associated with making representations of sensation for the body.
2. At the cognitive level
Reading a book can change perspectives and improve cognitive development. It increases vocabulary and promotes language and verbal ability. It can also promote spatial and visual development. Reading goes far beyond mere comprehension. It aids in the attainment of knowledge and improved function to disseminate that information, to fully understand it and to apply it in everyday lives.
3. At the social and emotional
Reading encourages theory of mind which in turn underpins empathy and compassion. It helps children understand how the characters tick, what they are thinking about and in turn this can be translated into improving their social awareness and skills in the world. A good handle on language which comes through the reading experience helps with personal expression.
In particular, children whose parents have engaged in more reading activities with them have been found to show greater social and emotional development, more resilience to stress, greater satisfaction in life, more self-control, awareness, better mental health, stronger relationships, more tolerance and more successful relationships (Desforges & Abouchaar, 2003)
Reading then remains key in any child (and teenagers) development. It empowers them and puts them on the ladder to a healthier future but are these facts alone sufficient to encourage the reluctant reader.
As a parent then provide opportunities for reading. Whilst reading fiction has numerous benefits, it is still good for a child to read anything.
Start small – don’t expect your reluctant reader to suddenly read a 500 page novel
Understand what grabs your child’s attention and proactively select relevant books
Prepare the pathway for enjoyable reading. Make reading fun
Enjoy a good book yourself – children love to copy adults. So you read – they read!
Read to them. Even with teens, share snippets of interesting information
Have time with your children exploring the word pointing out signs, notices etc
Empathise with your child. If they have reading homework, work through it with them.
Relish in the written word. Be excited about reading – it’s infectious!
Open up – leave tempting books, newspapers and magazines scattered about the house
Help your child become a reading superhero!
Want to read another great article on ‘Why Reading is the Modern Superpower?’ – click here