- The Importance of Books: No Need to Read between the Lines
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald
No truer words were ever uttered. Because as primary caregivers, parents have the responsibility — nay, the honor — of introducing their children to the world of books. This introduction is just the beginning of getting kids to read…and to enjoy this pleasure for the rest of their lives.
It’s pretty simple: Books build the foundation for your child’s success in both school and life. Period. Reading develops language and communication skills, vocabulary, emotional and personal development, social adjustment, confidence, and a larger global view.
Stories magically transport children to a whole new world of fantasy, adventure, and imagination! Kids are suddenly aware of exciting new realms of possibilities. And they learn lessons without realizing they’re learning lessons. What a wonderful feat!
A love of books is best instilled when children are young. In fact, it’s not too soon to start reading to your baby in utero. Whether it’s Dr. Seuss or T.S. Eliot, your baby will be comforted just by the sound of your voice. And it gets you into the beautiful habit early on of regularly reading to your child.
In fact, children’s books make a priceless gift to a new mom. My youngest daughter started a library for her older sister when she was expecting her first child. My grandson now has an impressive collection of dozens of wonderful children’s books. (His favorite? Green Eggs and Ham!)
As your child grows, be sure to choose age-appropriate stories. Board books, pop-up books, and interactive books are great at young ages. Picture books and rhyming books are better for pre-schoolers. Fairy tales, poems, and non-fiction books at the right reading level for school-age children abound. Ask your librarian for help with recommendations. Have her tell you about her Story Hour program, too.
I can’t stress this enough: Read to your child every single day. Make it part of your bedtime ritual. Plan playdates around books, too. (Think of it as a book club for pint-sized readers.) Pick a favorite title. Then coordinate activities that revolve around the storyline. For instance:
- I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont – After reading the book aloud, have the children paint pictures using the bright primary colors featured in the book.
- How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long – Have the children come to the playdate dressed as a pirate by wearing a scarf around their head. After reading the book aloud, go on a treasure hunt.
- If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff – After reading the book aloud, make pancakes together and serve as a brunch.
- Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion – Have everyone bring their dogs. (You’ll probably want a small group for this one!) After reading the book aloud, the children can give all their dogs a bath outdoors with the hose.
- Sebastian’s Roller Skates by Joan De Deu Prats – If your child is a little older, everyone can go roller skating in the park after reading this story together.
For a great way to neatly display your books and keep them accessible, the Lift & Hide Bookcase Storage Chest from Step2 is an awesome choice.
Want to learn more about kids and reading? Turn to Reach Out and Read, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting early literacy.
And then they lived happily ever after.