Why do we tell children to read?
Why do we always tell children that reading is beneficial for them? And is it even true in this digital age? Does reading novels actually help older children in any way? Does reading to younger children have identifiable benefits?
And, finally, does reading really matter in any way?
Yes – reading is vital, life-changing and stimulating for some very important reasons. Let’s take a look at how reading assists children in their everyday lives, and then look further to see how it can give them an overall fulfilling, rewarding life.
Books help children develop vital language skills.
In children, reading skills do exist, but they need to be developed. Learning in school, and later on at university requires advanced levels of reading. No reading SKILL equals no advancement in the university of life. Whatever path you want to follow in life, be it academia, sciences or even entrepreneurship and the arts, you need reading skills. And to cope with life as a normal functioning adult, reading skills are of utmost importance for everyday use.
People studying futurology have hailed the death of the written word as imminent. However, the exact opposite has happened. With the advent of the internet and the overload of information that we are bombarded with every day, reading a vital skill that everyone wants to acquire as fast as possible. Skimming and searching through copious amounts of information as fast and as accurately as possible is a valued skill. Paperless does not mean without the written word. You can read the same report in many different ways, formats and presentations at the click of a button. A couple of written words today can cause an international uproar in minutes. In order to understand what you read, other skills are also necessary, such as critical thinking, evaluation, anticipation, and moderation.
Without these skills, reading would not mean much at all.
The more children read, the better they become at reading.
Yes, it’s true. If children enjoy what is being read to them, the more interested they will become in doing as much as possible to fine tune and develop their reading skills. This means they will be fully capable adults with access to all information anywhere they choose. It is also important to enjoy the activity of reading. If it takes you out of your life and introduces you to other worlds, thoughts, places, and things, then you are the richer for it. When a child struggles to read, it will continuously be an emotional obstacle. So, it is important to forge a positive attitude towards reading as early as possible.
Children who read frequently will develop enquiring minds and become more interested in becoming avid readers themselves. If you read out loud to children, they become familiar with grammatical styles and expression. Through this, they learn to speak better and develop a greater understanding of how to express themselves verbally. Through this they are also able to pick up on empathy as they read stories through the eyes of different characters. They learn to identify similarities and differences between themselves and various characters. The list goes on.
Children who read a lot regardless of whether it is newspapers, the internet, books or magazines are exposed to a greater range of new and interesting vocabulary. They do not have to understand the actual word as most times they can work it out from the context of the sentence and next time they see it, they will have learned something without even realising it. Reading aloud also helps children with the pronunciation of words as they link the word on the page to the word that is being spoken – this is true even if they cannot yet sound out the word themselves.
Reading is an amazing experience. It can open up a whole new world to children, enhancing their lives with places, things, and descriptions they have never heard of before. Reading also brings a completely new world to a child – whether it is factual, scientific or simply for self-interest. There are so many resources available from which children can read, that if they take to it and realize how useful it can be, then, literally, the world is their oyster – there is no end to what they can read and access. It would be a magical experience for them.
Reading will open up a whole new understanding of humanity, and its history from all over the world. And nowhere is it more obvious that we live in a “global village” than when thinking of this in relation to children growing and developing their hungry minds. Aspects such as peaceful coexistence throughout the world and concern for humanity are all by-products of reading. Children will learn these things through the reading of non-fiction books, and other materials that are set in other periods of time, in other countries and cultures.
Books bring a real live world into the life of a child. Through their imagination, they can go places and feel things without any consequences. They don’t have to answer to anyone. They can travel with their minds and meet all sorts of unsavory or popular characters who they can revisit, whenever they feel the need, by simply rereading the book. Discovering a sequel or other stories by the same author is even more exciting. Lessons in life skills such as problem-solving, cause and effect as well as conflict resolution and learning about accepting responsibility for your own actions are all explained and contained between the exciting pages of novels. Mystery stories or investigations into plots can all challenge young minds to solve theories – and then feeling terribly pleased when they do it correctly as it unfolds in the book.
Furthermore, their confidence is given a great boost. Everybody knows that children copy what they see and hear from the world around them. There are plenty of children’s TV programs that leave much to be desired in terms of violence and war and bad relationships. On the plus side, children are positively influenced by carefully chosen books and stories which can teach them positive and acceptable behavior. From these materials children learn to be in tune with the needs of others around them, they can also learn about how to love and treat animals, or how to protect our planet.
Reading can enhance children’s social skills.
Reading is normally seen as a solitary activity, however, when children are being read to from a book or an eBook, it is a perfect opportunity for parent / adult and child to interact together and to share some calm time together away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Time spent reading is precious, and at the same time, they are sharing the ideas in the book. Older children reading to younger children is also encouraging.
Reading is normally seen as a solitary activity, however, when children are being read to from a book or an eBook, it is a perfect opportunity for parent / adult and child to interact together and to share some calm time together away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Time spent reading is precious, and at the same time, they are sharing the ideas in the book. Older children reading to younger children is also encouraging.
Children who go to school will be used to having reading time, or story time when their teacher reads to them. They associate this with coming together and sharing an hour of quiet when they are together because of a book. For some children, this is the only time they get to share with other children, the only social time they have. It is important to encourage this type of activity and to talk about the experience.
Reading can improve hand-eye coordination.
You may not think that eBooks could help a child, but actually, while they are clicking around the child-friendly website, they are improving their fine motor skills and their eye-hand coordination, they are also picking up excellent computer skills which will serve them well in later life.
Reading can provide children with plenty of good, clean fun!
I have saved the most important aspect for last! Reading can actually provide children with so many hours of fun, excitement, and anticipation of how the story will end. Stories allow children to dream! And this is what keeps them intrigued for life. Read to your younger children every day and encourage older children to read. Make sure they have access to reading material and can get to it on their own – and then talk to them about what they have read. Read to them from different sources too – eBooks, novels, classics and so on. They will love the old fairy tales and soak up the more modern stories. Reading the same story over and over is not damaging – in fact, it makes the child feel comfortable and safe when they know the outcome of the story. Reread the old favorites, and also throw in some new stories. Children’s minds are like sponges – they soak up all the information you give them, with room for more.
Reading can give a child three things (amongst others!) – important new skills, interesting knowledge, and simple pleasure. Form a habit with your child – nurture it, encourage it. Use all resources you have access to. Introduce activities that follow on from the story such as coloring in. Talk to them about the story and what happened. Give them a chance to think about it, reflect on it, and learn from it. While getting them into the wealth of literature out there, you may even find a child’s story that you could enjoy!
About Stimulus Maksima
Here at Stimulus Maksima!, our goal is to promote reading preparation, learn to read and reading improvement for learners of all ages in South Africa. We do this by offering a variety of products and services to parents, individuals who wish to improve upon their reading skills and to schools who wish to give their students a boost in their development.
Along with this, we also focus on providing assistance and guidance when it comes to mathematics. For more information on what we do and how we can help, please do not hesitate to get in touch.