Reading to your children is an excellent way for them to begin to absorb the building blocks of language and make sense of the world around them. Children learn concrete language skills like grammar and spelling when they’re old enough to read books themselves, but even the smallest of children with the shortest of attention spans learns a lot from books when their parents take the time to read to them. Reading to an infant helps the child learn sounds, words and language, which help develop literacy skills. They’ll also start to appreciate the value of the written word and the importance of books in general.
Stories Spark Imagination
Books can spark a child’s imagination in a way that no other medium can. TV and movies show children the story so completely that little is left to the imagination. That’s not the case with books. Even picture books for small children require a little imagination from the child. Reading to children helps them develop their social skills and their ability to communicate will also improve. This leads to less frustration in children and ultimately they will be able to learn more because of their improved communication skills.
Books can be a window to the world of emotions that the child has yet to experience. New and possibly frightening events can be covered in books which help the child gain experience in a safe manner. Books also allow the child to ask questions about the situation which perhaps another book can answer if the parent isn’t able to. This sort of investigation of the world around a child is a very safe way of them understanding life, and it’s also a great bonding experience for the child and parent.
Books Change the Brain
Did you realize that reading changes the brain? There are two things that an effective story does: the first is to capture the readers by hooking them in. Once they’re hooked on the story, the writer’s next job is to create a world so vivid that the reader is transported into it. A writer that can do this will make the reader feel what their character is experiencing, and the book will linger in the mind once the last page has been turned. A good story creates an emotional stimulus in the reader that helps them to empathize with the character. When this happens, oxytocin is released in the brain, which scientists confirm makes people more compassionate, allowing them to empathize with the characters.
The Dramatic Arc
Do you believe that every story is basically the same as some narrative theorists imagine? If you’ve felt that for a while, you might well be right because there’s definitely a universal story that runs through the sort of successful works we go back to time and again. The “dramatic arc” storyline goes something like this – something new and surprising occurs which starts off a chain of events that increase tension for the main characters. There is often a failure or crisis in their past which leads to a climax in which the characters have to look deep within themselves to overcome the current situation they face. Think back over popular stories like the Harry Potter series or the original Star Wars trilogy and you’ll recognize this story arc in the characters of Harry and Luke.
Best Children’s Stories
There are so many great children’s stories and so little space here to list them that it would be best to leave that up to you as the parent to decide which stories to read with your children. One thing that is worth thinking about is why certain stories endure. The stories that we go back to time and again, those that are retold by movie studios and reprinted over and over by publishers, keep being read for a reason – they’re as educational as they are entertaining which is a win/win for parents.