In our last article, we barely scratched the surface of how important it is to read to your children. As a parent myself, I read at least 6 books a night to my son, and sometimes up to 10 depending. I can’t tell you the joy I feel when I see his eyes light up and that beautiful smile crack when we get to one of his favorite parts. Very often he’ll say to me “I want to read it again!” And although great parenting does take patience, I love the fact that he is so entertained to the point where he wants me to read it again, whatever the book may be.
My wife and I started reading to our son well before he was able to crawl. We could see that when we opened that first page and began the first paragraph his eyes would lite up, and any cooing or whining immediately halted once he saw the images and heard our voices. When a story has multiple characters, we often try to emulate our voices to what we think that character may sound like. Trust me it’s waaay more fun that way and your kids will get a good kick out of it.
In skimming YouTube as I often do for information and studies on children’s education, I came across a channel called TEDx. In this video Rebecca Bellingham discusses why reading aloud to kids both at school and in the home is essential. Rebecca is an Instructor in the Literacy Program at Columbia University Teachers College and has been teaching for over 18 years. In the video, she explains how reading a book aloud can make a kid feel like they are “inside” the book. That there is a difference between hearing the words, sounds, and pronunciations of words in a story, as opposed to simply reading the words in a book as if you are simply translating or decoding the sentences and paragraphs.
When a child reads from a book, they are not only building their neurological pathways, but they are engaging their imagination and adding to the building blocks of their memories. Books are tangible. Books are real. Books are something that you can lay your hands on, can be put on a shelf, and are always within an arms reach. You can see a book on a shelf and it will remind you of that story you once read.
There is magic in letting your child discover the depth of a great story. There is an art in letting them discover the depth of their imaginations. Day-dreaming has its place, but “A Wonder is Never Flawed”. Reading to your child builds an unbreakable bond and allows them to hear a vocabulary that may not be normally spoken in their everyday life.
One of our favorite books from when he was just a few months old was My First 100 Words.
I can’t tell you how many times he wanted me to read this one. Not only did he love the images, but it was easy for him to comprehend the words inside due to the pastel-like, artistic illustrations, and bold colors. Before you know it, your kid will be interrupting you to tell you what that word is, and turning the page.
Another book that our son was stuck to, and still loves to read to this day is an interactive book called “All Better”. Dog hurt his foot, Sheep scratched her tummy and Bear sat on a splinter! What will make everything all better? Clean it, kiss it and put a bandage on it! Young readers will delight in the five animal friends’ misadventures and be eager to help make things “all better” with the five reusable and repositionable stickers. He absolutely loves removing and sticking the bandages back on the pages over and over again. And don’t worry big kids, the bandages are not paper stickers. They’re made of a really firm, flexible plastic with an adhesive that never rubs off.
And lastly, there is a wonderful book he has recently gotten into called “A Tale of Two Beast”. When a little girl rescues a strange beast from the woods, she takes him home. But for some reason, the little beast is not happy! There are two sides to every story, and this funny and charming tale is no exception. Author/illustrator Fiona Roberton offers both points of view in this discussion-starting tale of the importance of seeing the world in different ways.
If you ever had the pleasure of being read to when you were younger, you will probably remember at the end the story when your Mom, Dad, Teacher, or loved one would say “and the moral to the story is”..etc. Well, I love telling my son the morals of all of our stories, but this one is probably the most fitting for today’s climate. There are always two sides to every story, and always two points of view. It is wise to engage your children to try and see both.