By Ashly Moore Sheldon • November 01, 2019
It surely comes as no surprise that reading is good for kids. But the all-encompassing benefits of storytime—on children and adults, alike—is pretty amazing. In The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction, Meghan Cox Gurden explains the transformative effects that reading together has on everyone. To kick off Family Literacy Month, we are highlighting 5 ways that reading improves kids' lives with perfect picture books to go along with each one.
Knowledge is power. You need it every hour. Read a book!
Reading to young children has been shown to improve cognitive development and language skills, leading to greater success in school and life. Children who develop the habit of reading are improving their capacity to learn as well as absorbing new information every time they open a book. Reading has been called The Great Equalizer because children at any socioeconomic level can benefit from its life-changing power. The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson tells the true story of Lewis Michaux, a man who made it his mission to bring the power of books to his community. As Lewis says to his son in the book, "The more you read, the easier it is to figure out for yourself what is true." Some of the storied visitors to his Harlem bookstore included Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. This book is also a great way to introduce kids to the civil rights movement.
I am a child of books. I come from a world of stories.
Children who can entertain themselves by reading are never bored. A trip to the library offers endless delights. A long car ride is a chance to disappear into an adventure. In the whimsical A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston, a girl and boy embark on an epic journey through a vast world of words. They traverse oceans, explore forests, and face down fearsome monsters. This book demonstrates the power of story to transport and captivate us.
Ana has read her book, her only book, so many times, she knows it by heart.
There's a reason why storytime is so often performed just before bed. Reading has been proven to lower your heart rate and help you relax. The simple act of sitting down with a book calms us down, decreasing stress and anxiety. For children, books can serve as reassuring comfort items. Waiting for the Biblioburro, by John Parra and Monica Brown, tells the story of Ana, a little girl in a remote, rural village. During the day, she works hard taking care of her brother and doing her chores on the family farm. She has only one book, which she reads again and again every evening before bed. Until one day, a man rides into town with his traveling biblioburro, bringing a world of books for Ana and the other village children to borrow. This charming tale, possibly set in Mexico or Honduras, injects some Spanish vocabulary into its mostly English text, offering great language learning opportunities.
You can imagine the words. You can imagine the stories.
In The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski, a little girl walks home from school with her new book—a magical book. As she walks the words pour out of the book and when she opens it up, she is dismayed to find only pictures. But the book whispers to her that she can make her own stories. This is a perfect story to demonstrate how reading helps children develop their imagination. This beautifully illustrated book helps kids imagine themselves not only as readers, but storytellers themselves. Not only does this ability grow innovative and creative minds, it builds the child's capacity to feel empathy for others. Children learn to imagine other ways of being, essentially putting themselves in someone else's shoes. Bottom line: Reading creates kinder, more thoughtful humans.
I'll hold you close. We'll share a book and read together.
For many busy, working parents, storytime provides a much-needed opportunity for intimacy and closeness with their wee ones. Many of us have fond childhood memories of cuddling on the couch with a good book and someone we love reading aloud to us. Love You, Hug You, Read to You! by Tish Rabe perfectly captures the magic of this beloved ritual. The book also provides weary caregivers with a set of helpful questions and cues for engaging tots in the reading experience. The only possible drawback to this sweet, little story is that you may get choked up while reading it, even just by the first few lines: "There are three things I'll always do...love you, hug you, read to you!"