We all know that reading with our kids is important, but do we know why--other than because it instills a love of reading? Why do we care if we instill a love of reading (sounds sacrilegious to even ask I know)? Maybe it isn’t just about them loving to read, but what reading will give them.
It begins when our babies are just babies. Reading aloud to your baby motivates them to point, look, and answer questions that you ask them. It also encourages social and thinking skills. Reading aloud to your toddler and young child helps with cognitive development and language skills. The doctor of this stuff, Dr. Seuss, once said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
These are all wonderful reasons to read to your child, but I think there is an even more inspiring reason. F. Scott Fitzgerald said it best when he wrote, “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” Our children will learn that in this big old world they are not alone in their feelings that they are learning to navigate.
They will learn about their emotions and that others have similar feelings. It teaches our children that it’s okay to be scared and that they can be brave like Rosa Parks and determined like Amelia Earhart. They’ll learn in books that being sad is a normal part of life and it’s good to feel their feelings. Sometimes it is easier to learn by seeing someone else's example in a story than just hearing your parent say “it’s okay to miss someone.” Learning about these emotions will teach your children to recognize these emotions and offer love and support to others--in other words, empathy.
Books teach them that they are “normal” and Everyone Poops. Books also teach them that being “normal” is relative and that they should love themselves and others just the way they are. In fact they will learn that some of the most out of the ordinary people were the most extraordinary.
Reading can inspire little minds. It can introduce them to parts of the world they did not know existed before reading. They can travel to far off lands, learn about amazing careers, and learn about others dreams that may resonate with their own dreams.
Reading is important for more reasons than just knowing your ABCs and having an impressive vocabulary. Let your children develop a love of themselves, people, places, and of their dreams alongside their love of reading.