With all the engaging and enriching activities available for children these days aren’t books a little antiquated? I can think of so many fun and stimulating things for my child to do like play with brain-enhancing apps, watch commercial free, educational shows and animated stories on a private screen and participate in interactive toys and games. Surely these things are much more appropriate in 2016? Why do so many “experts” hold on to the notion that books are the only path to success?
A modern parent who is ready to move on.
Dear modern parent,
I can understand your perspective books seem somewhat old-fashioned. Kids these days certainly do have a wide array of interesting activities to choose from. It may seem that animated stories and shows may be more entertaining than a dull reciting and reading of print on paper. Reading a book requires a lot of time and effort for busy parents, and especially when children are very young, books seemingly offer no entertainment value in and of themselves.
However, it is precisely because of the interaction necessary to make books entertaining that reading old-fashioned books is a valuable endeavor. First and foremost, reading a book with a child offers the opportunity to share a bonding moment. The close proximity, snuggles and the conversations that occur as a result of sharing a book together are the primary reason parents should take the time to read aloud to their children on a daily basis from the day they are born.
Additionally, it should be noted that reading is the most effective way to develop vocabulary. Researchers who analyze texts in various genres as well as words used in conversations, movies and TV shows have found that books are the richest resource for complex and rare words. In fact, even picture books have a higher variety of words than a conversation between two college educated adults. For more information on this research, read this article.
Language and literacy experts recommend that children should be read to on a daily basis from infancy, but the recommended time allotment for reading is merely 15 minutes, and perhaps not even all at once! Other activities such as play, movement and educational entertainment are also encouraged. The recommendation is simply to remember reading as well!
Keep the following benefits of reading in mind as you prioritize events in your child’s day:
Reading books together can lead to conversations and the asking and answering of questions. These conversations are interactive in a way that a computer or other device cannot be. You will have the opportunity to get to know your child better and together you can explore new ideas and concepts.
Reading books aloud helps children learn story, sentence and language structures that will help them perform better in school.
Reading helps expand on a child’s experiences and knowledge base of various topics. The responsive conversations you have about the stories and informational books you read together help your child develop connections between their lives, the things they are learning through other activities and new concepts.
Reading books helps your child become prepared for school by teaching him early literacy skills. Your child will learn that words convey meaning and will begin to recognize letters, print and symbols.
Children develop empathy and self-awareness through the connections they feel with characters in books. Character development delves deeper in books than in movies and TV shows because the author can describe thoughts, feelings and motivations that are difficult for actors to portray.
Reading is not a naturally developed skill. We must work at learning to read and if we don’t, reading is not likely to happen naturally.
Please don’t give up on books and reading to your child! By all means, continue engaging your child in interesting activities, but remember to keep reading 15 minutes a day as a regular part of your family routine.