Why is reading important for kids? There are many reasons. Reading is great! There is no arguing against it. So, let’s find out why it is a good idea to let your child read.
- Vocabulary: your son/daughter learns new vocabulary.
- Values. Many books highlight certain values that your child may relate to
- Reading books aloud to small children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world
- Some stories are unforgettable and will remain with them for the rest of their lives
- Reading improves IQ
Learning new Vocabulary
It goes without saying that your knowledge of vocabulary increases when you read books. That does not mean that you have to stop and check the dictionary every now and then for a new word. In many cases you can understand the meaning of a word via the context in which it was used.
I am not a native English speaker. I am from Belgium, and obviously I learned English as a third language in school (first Flemish and French). Nonetheless, my knowledge of English vocabulary increased considerably by watching movies, reading books, and listening to English and American songs.
My first English words did not come from my school teacher but from the American westerns (usually with John Wayne or James Stewart), because my father used to watch them all the time. He was a big fan of John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. 😉 He also made us watch plenty of the spaghetti westerns 🙂
And, naturally, reading books also helped a lot.
The Importance of Values
Most books teach values and many stories come with a morale.
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, include a lot of values, such as wisdom, generosity, justice, friendship, compassion, selflessness, courage, and much more.
Harry Potter teaches us to choose our friends wisely and to face our fears head on. In the Harry Potter books it is also beautifully illustrated how some teachers can really make a difference in students’ lives. Remember Remus Lupin, and what he did for Neville Longbottom? Reading that was so heartwarming.
Alice in Wonderland leaves the valuable lesson that we were a different person yesterday than we were today, and so we should not dwell on mistakes from the past, because we were not the person we are today. We are always improving ourselves and we can be a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday. Reproaching ourselves for errors from the past is something we have to let go of.
Easier said than done … I also take occasional trips down memory lane, and some memories are better left forgotten, some guilt is hard to deal with. Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland’s lesson is therefore one to remember.
Today we are not who we were yesterday.
Stimulating Children’s Imagination
It is beautiful to read a child a bedtime story. I love it when they hang onto your lips, eager to hear the rest of the tale. Their imagination flies and they begin to ask questions like “but why didn’t she run?” “Why didn’t he do this or that?”
And not only when you are reading to a child, but when a child reads a book, imagination is broadened by stimulating the right side of the brain. Reading opens our mind to seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, experience the world through a character’s life. That in turn leads children to analyze the character’s actions.
Imagination is important, because it helps us draw conclusions which is based on our knowledge and experience of the world around us. We explore beyond our limits, find new worlds and new challenges to which we may or not relate, but which we will analyze regardless and find solutions to.
Imagination leads to creativity.
When I was eleven, I bought a new book, and this one would keep me busy for a while, for it had around 1300 pages. The book was called Sacajawea and it was the amazing story of a remarkable, indigenous woman who traveled with Lewis and Clarke on the North American continent, helping their expedition succeed.
I read it all, and I was mesmerized by Sacajawea’s story. I admired her for her strength and her spirit, and she has remained with me ever since, for decades. Some books are unforgettable, and for me it was Sacajawea’s story. Which one was it for you and which one will it be for your son or daughter? Let me know in the comments below 🙂
First of all, as I mentioned in my first point, reading teaches us more vocabulary. So, yes, reading makes us smarter. When you read accurate historical fiction you also get a glimpse into past centuries through the eyes and experiences of the main character, making you learn about a time long past.
Additionally, reading can make us more compassionate and empathetic. When stories are character-driven, we will warm to those characters and feel with them, relate to their travails and rejoice in their successes, thus increasing our empathy. This is another reason why reading can increase your IQ and why it is important for kids.
What does empathy have to do with IQ? IQ is not all about academics. We would not function as humans if our intelligence was only academical. What about connecting with others, feeling sympathy, compassion; what about connecting? Character-driven stories increase children’s empathy and as a result they will improve their social skills.
Academics have their merits and they are needed, but they are not the only skill we need to focus on, not by far. What use is a strong academical knowledge without any emotional intelligence? Character-driven books will help teach children about social skills.
Which of your childhood books have remained in your thoughts ever since? Which books have left a lasting impression on you when you were a child or adolescent? Are there any books you recommend for children? Let me know, it would be great to get some suggestions in the comments below.
Thank you for reading, and I am looking forward to your comments.
Stand Tall, a children’s book about a little girl who stands up to a bully
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