We have all heard the statement that children who are read to are more likely to succeed. That is great, but with our busy world can’t we use technology to do this and will it have the same effect? YouTube has great videos and there are story podcasts, I am doing the same thing if I get those for my child, right?
Unfortunately, no. Video stories and podcasts that have children’s stories are great for car rides, or when you need that shower. To get the benefits for your child you need to sit with your child and read a physical book. Why?
To succeed children need many skills, they need to know how to interact with other people appropriately, they need to be able to connect with other people, they need to understand how other people might feel (empathy), they need to be able to pay attention for longer periods of time, and they need to remember and recall information.
Think about that one person you have worked with in the past that drove you crazy. What was it? Did they lack people skills? Maybe they had a hard time understanding simple directions? These are the things that reading with your child gives them.
So what do children get from reading a book with you?
Social and Emotional Learning
When you read with your child, have them sit in your lap or near you. They learn that reading is an enjoyable activity, and they are making an emotional connection to you.
Books are a great way to talk about how other people feel. When you read a book you can talk about how the character in the book feels, and make connections to how your child feels. Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is a great book to read with younger children. It is the story of a fish that is very beautiful with shiny scales, but finds he is very unhappy. Through the story you can talk with the child about how Rainbow Fish feels, and why he is happy at the end of the story.
Children naturally want to talk about what is going on in the book. What do they see in the picture, what do the characters feel like, have they ever had that happen? All of these opportunities are times to practice conversation skills with your child. The give and take of a conversation, and listening to another perspective! Wouldn’t the world be a better place if all adults practiced these skills?
Reading often introduces children to words that they may not hear in their day to day world. Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young is a good example. It is about blind mice that find something one day, and each mouse goes to explore it and describes it differently. The first mouse said it was a pillar, the next says it is a snake, and the third says it is a spear, and on. While snake is a word that might come up in life, pillar and spear are not common words in most households. Look for books that are familiar but use words that a child may not hear everyday.
Increases Attention Span
If you have ever read to a 2 year old, you know that they may only sit for one page. However, often when you read to a 4 year old they can sit through the entire book, or a library full of books! If they have been read to they learn there are interesting things that can happen in the books, and their attention span increases. Part of this is how the brain develops. As a child gets older the connections in their brain develop and focus on the skills that are needed and practiced. If you sit and read with your child you are helping their brain form to be able to focus on an activity for an extended period of time.
Beyond all of the skills above children can also learn concepts about print, such as:
- How to hold a book
- Where to look in the book
- How to interpret information and pictures
- Find words
- How to turn pages
Make Reading Even More Brain Boosting By:
- Have your child predict what is going to happen next in the story
- Give your child a part – stories that have predictive text children learn the words and “read” them
- Make connections with the story and the child’s life. Did they see a dog in the park? Is it similar to the dog in the book?
What are other ways you help your child boost their brain through reading?