Why Do We Tell Children to Read?

We’re always telling children that books and reading are good for them, but have we ever really thought about, or explained to our children, why that’s true?

Books Help Children Develop Vital Language Skills
Reading is an important skill that needs to be developed in children.  Not only is it necessary for survival in the world of schools, but in adult life as well.

The more children read, the better they become at reading.  It’s as simple as that.  The more enjoyable the things they read are, the more they’ll stick with them and develop the reading skills that they’ll need for full access to information in their adult lives.  Reading should be viewed as a pleasurable activity – as a source of entertaining tales and useful and interesting factual information.

The more young children read stories and are read to, the greater their interest in mastering reading.  Reading out loud exposes children to proper grammar and phrasing.  It enhances the development of their spoken language skills and their ability to express themselves verbally.

Reading exposes children to new vocabulary. Even when they don’t understand every new word, they absorb something from the context that may deepen their understanding of it the next time the word is encountered.

Reading Can Open Up New Worlds and Enrich Children’s Lives
Reading opens doors.   Given the wealth of available resources, if children can read well and if they see reading as a source of enjoyment and information, then for the rest of their lives they will have access to all of the accumulated knowledge of mankind.  It truly is magic!

Through books and stories, children can also learn about people and places from other parts of the world, improving their understanding of and concern for all of humanity.  This, in turn, contributes towards our sense that we truly live in a “global village” and may help us bring about a more peaceful future for everyone.

Through stories and novels children can vicariously try out new experiences and test new ideas, with no negative consequences in their real lives.  They can meet characters who they’ll enjoy returning to for comforting and satisfying visits when they reread a cherished book or discover a sequel.  Books also give kids the opportunity to flex their critical thinking skills in such areas as problem solving, the concepts of cause and effect, conflict resolution, and acceptance of responsibility for one’s actions.

Reading Can Enhance Children’s Social Skills
A parent or grandparent reading a story aloud can be a great opportunity for adult and child to share some quiet, relaxed quality time together away from the rush and stresses of the business of daily living.  They share a few minutes of precious time, plus they share the ideas that are contained in the story.

Reading Can Provide Children with Plenty of Good, Clean Fun
Reading can provide children with endless hours of fun and entertainment.  Stories can free up imaginations and open up exciting new worlds of fantasy or reality.  They allow children to dream and may give them a good start on the road to viewing reading as a lifelong source of pleasure; so read to your young children every day.

Inspire your older children to read. Give them access to plenty of reading material that they’ll enjoy and discuss it with them.  Sample everything – traditional printed books and ebooks on Internet, classic children’s novels and fairy tales, as well as more modern stories.

If a child wants to hear the same story over and over again, don’t worry about it.  Children take comfort from the familiarity and predictability of a beloved story that they know by heart.  There’s no harm in that.  Reread old favorites and, at the same time, introduce your children to new stories.  Your child’s mind and heart have room for both.

So Reading Really Does Matter After All
There are so many ways in which reading continues to be both a vital skill for children to master, and an important source of knowledge and pleasure that can last a lifetime.  Nurture it in your children.