The Importance of Reading with Children

At at time where screen-time is at record levels, reading with children is sometimes being forced into the backseat (1). In this article we identify 7 reasons why reading with children is so important. Plus, we have put together a collection of our favourite OKIDO stories from squirrel boy for you to enjoy!

1. EMOTIONAL EMPATHY

When transported into the mind of the storyteller, children are able to learn how other people think and feel. Unlike other forms of media, writing enables characters to express their innermost thoughts and emotions on the page. This insight into the characters mind helps children better relate to their own emotions, and in turn helps develop emotional intelligence and empathy from a young age. In fact, reading literary fiction in particular has been shown to increase empathy and emotional intelligence all the way to adulthood (2).

2. COGNITIVE AND LINGUISTIC DEVELOPMENT

Perhaps unsurprisingly, studies show that reading to children at a young age has a profound impact on developing literary skills and cognitive development all the way through to adulthood. In fact the national Commission on Reading state that ‘reading out loud to children is the single most important intervention for developing their literary skills” (3) .  How? Because reading helps to build neural networks, develop key thought processes and boost important skills including problem solving, decision making and memory (4).

3. SELF EXPRESSION

Creative prose and poetry also enables children to develop unusual links between different objects and ideas. This helps them find more elegant  ways to express their own emotion and to frame thoughts and opinions. Poetry is particularly effective connecting different ideas creatively – we are so keen on it that every edition of OKIDO magazine contains a poem!

Child Reading magazine

4.CREATIVITY AND IMAGINATION

Reading and storytelling enhance creativity in multiple ways. When you are transported into the world of a character, we come to think of the place and characters as real. Since stories are read at the pace of the reader, storytelling becomes a non linear, encouraging plot theories, questions and debate about what will happen next. In fact, this conversation inspired by the story can be just as important as the story itself, helping children bring different themes and ideas from the story into the context of a child’s world.

5. CONCENTRATION

Unlike many other forms of media like games, apps and television that are consumed in a passive format, reading requires a sustained period of concentration to consume and digest the required information. Since reading also demands critical thinking and logic skills to process and make sense of the information, reading really does offer the mind a complete workout.

6. BUILDING EXPERTISE

There’s no better way to become an expert in something than to read about it. Whether it’s Dinosaurs, cycling, space or the weather, books and magazines can offer a brilliant way to immerse a child in a topic. If you’re particularly interested in one of these topics why not check out our OKIDO back catalogue here

7. FUN!

The most important reason is of course for enjoyment. Reading can be great fun and spending time reading together with children is a great way to have fun together. Some stories are so captivating they have the ability to transcend time and the ideas from children’s books can capture a child’s attention for a lifetime. This list by the Book Trust captures lots of our favourites – we suggest you check them out here

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/feb/21/only-half-of-pre-school-children-being-read-to-daily-study-finds
  2. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/i-know-how-youre-feeling-i-read-chekhov/?_r=5&
  3. Rethinking the Brain: New Insights Into Early Development, Report of the Conference on Brain Development, University of Chicago. (This report is available from the Families and Work Institute, 330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001.)
  4. http://www.scholastic.com/readingreport/
  5. Rethinking the Brain: New Insights Into Early Development, Report of the Conference on Brain Development, University of Chicago. (This report is available from the Families and Work Institute, 330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001.)

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