Researchers constantly find that reading to children is valuable in a variety of ways, not least of which are instilling a love of reading and improved reading skills. With better parent-child bonding from reading, your child will also be more emotionally secure and able to relate better to others. Intellectual performance will expand as well. Spending time together watching television fails as a substitute.
To help other parents apply this advice, as a parent of four I consulted an expert, our youngest child, and asked her to share with me her favorite books that were read to her as a young child. Richard Scarry's Best Story Book Ever was one of her picks.
This book was my daughter's choice night after night during the years from ages 3-6. The stories are all vividly colored, humorous, and reasonably short. They just suited her perfectly.
She would plead after each one, "Just one more story, Dad." (This was after her mother had read to her, as well.) I would read until I had almost no voice left. Eventually, we negotiated that she could pick two stories from this book, and if I was in the mood (and in good voice) we could go up from there. Otherwise, bedtime would have been delayed for hours!
If you don't know Richard Scarry, he has a wonderful, light sense of humor. He usually features intelligent animals, but in human-like contexts. This makes the moral of the story easier for the youngster to swallow, while making the story more interesting. For example, A Castle in Denmark is about the rules that you should follow in a castle (or a house) such as not leaving things on the floor where people can trip on them. Who else would have come up with such a wonderful way to help establish household rules?
The stories in the book contain all the elements needed in a preschool book, with lots of alphabet, numbers, socialization, and charming stories with important lessons attached. The book includes one of my daughter's all time favorite stories, I Am a Bunny by Ole Rison. This story was repeated like a mantra around our house by all four children. It is a great beginning reader story.
The stories vary in sophistication from simple ones to mini-mysteries involving detectives. My daughter especially loved the mini-mysteries.
Here are her favorite stories in the book (in the order they appear):
The Rabbit Family's Home
I Am a Bunny
Pip Pip Goes to London
A Castle in Denmark
Couscous, the Algerian Detective
Officer Montey of Monaco
Pierre, the Paris Policeman
The Country Mouse and the City Mouse by Patricia Scarry
Schtoompah, the Funny Austrian
From a value perspective, it is much less expensive to buy these stories in this form than to get them in the various Richard Scarry books. Of all the story books we bought for our children, this one was definitely the best value. I suspect it only cost about a penny per hour used. Running the television costs more than that!
Some readers have complained about the binding. Ours is a little loose in back after four years of hard use. For such a thick book, that's about par for the course. If your child is a hard user of books, you may want to get a new copy at some point.
After you have finished enjoying this book for the 4,317th evening in a row (if you have a large family), I suggest that you think about how these stories could be made even funnier by changing the context. For example, a castle in Denmark could become Cinderella's castle after she married the prince. What rules do you suppose Cinderella would have wanted to have? In this way, you and your child can exercise your imagination to have even more fun.
Take great stories and build on them . . . together with your child!