Reading is a vital skill for success, from reading street signs, instructions and recipes to digesting stories, history and other realities. Reading provides all ages with a door to creativity and relaxation. There are so many reasons why reading should be introduced early on to your children, so Skinny Mom asked the experts to explain why:
1. Wiring the brain's connections: Kids are sponges, and books can be the best resources for appropriate absorption and positive molding for the brain. "As young children interact with the world around them, those neurons and synapses that are most useful for generating successful behaviors are retained, while those that are ineffective get eliminated in a process called pruning," explained Susan Magsamen, Educational Advisory Board member for The Goddard School and Senior Vice President of Early Learning at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. "What does this mean for learning to read? It means our kids' early experiences can last a lifetime — and even impact the wiring of their brains."
2. Comprehending relativity: "Through reading fiction and biography, children can gain insight into lives very different from theirs," said Nancy Schimmel, a former children's librarian. "Probably more importantly, they can read about lives of children very like themselves, which helps children feel less alone with their problems and private wonderings."
3. Improving relationships: When you read to your child or share stories with them, it strengthens the line of communication. Furthermore, reading creates teachable moments, explained Christine French Cully, Editor-in-Chief of Highlights for Children, and "opens the door for good parent-child conversations, even the tough ones."
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4. Honing interpretation skills: Books are not meant to be understood in only one way. "For young children, the illustrations in picture books are just as important as the words and are of the utmost importance in wordless books," explained Stacy Books, Youth Services Specialist. "It's called building early literacy skills, and is something that comes naturally to kids, but should absolutely be reinforced at home. As children get older and start reading chapter books, they build whole worlds with their minds through inspiration from the written word."
5. Foreshadowing life choices: Every parent wonders who their child will grow up to be. "Watching what books your child is drawn to can give you clues about what they'll do and be in later life," said Diane Scimone, President of the Born2Fly Project. "...and it helps you encourage those loves and interests."
6. Nourishing a unique imagination: "As a teacher, attorney, author and child advocate, I have found that books offer children a safe opportunity for vicarious experience and seeing things from another point of view," explained Laurie Gray, attorney, author and founder of Socratic Parenting. "Books do this far better than movies because each child's brain creates unique, evocative images that engage that child at a personal level and foster emotional development."
7. Cultivating inner strength: "Books also offer a unique opportunity to help children cultivate resilience," added Laurie. "Through books, children can meet characters like themselves with the ability to become strong, healthy and successful even after something bad happens. Stories that they can relate to help children learn to rise above their own circumstances and encourage them not to give up too easily."
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8. Learning self-calming methods: Nothing beats a good book on a sunny beach. Reading is a relaxing activity, and children can really benefit from some down time like this. "Reading gives kids a chance to reset, recharge and participate in a calming activity," confirmed Lily Jones, founder of Curiosity Pack. "Learning to love reading as a child creates a lifelong reading habit." Click here to see how daily meditation can help recharge you, too.
9. Instilling a sense of empathy: It's one of those emotional skills some people have to hone throughout their lives. "By reading about different characters' lives, children get a chance to experience the world from others' perspectives," Lily continued. "... A whole world of future opportunities is open up to them."
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