Children Who Read
Reading is a gateway for children to understand themselves in the world. It allows them to see themselves as characters in the story of their life. As a child, I would lay in bed and wait for my father to read to me. He would pick a book from a collection of picture books for children. They were simple stories: Winnie the Pooh, Lion King and other Disney fables. I still recall the excitement I felt as my father flipped through those pages.
One thing we know from how children read and listen to stories is that they can partake in the story a variety of times, never getting bored. Unlike adults, the young get joy out of watching the same movie or reading the same plot because they want their expectations of the story satisfied. There is no greater feeling than when the superhero defeats the villain, or the lover enchants the beloved. These stories create the basis for our own desires as we grow, shaping who we want to become and where we want to go.
This, the existential meaning we all seek from stories, along with the joy we attain while being entertained is what makes reading to children crucial. We also know from linguistic research that access to stories gives us a greater vocabulary to articulate ourselves. Researchers have found that children who read develop better language skills. Their lexicon is more developed; thereby increasing their likelihood to succeed academically and professionally in the future.
We treat exercise as an important activity for children. We encourage them to play with friends and pick up new sports, but rarely are we so stringent about their reading habits. Perhaps the problem begins with us. If we were to read to children more, we would provide them with more stories to recreate their own futures. They would become problem-solvers and lovers of language.
I remember when my father used to remind me to brush my teeth before bed. I would ignore him, thinking brushing my teeth was a horrid activity. Then, I got a cavity. Now, I brush my teeth daily. It's no longer a nuisance, but just another task I do before bed that saves me in the long run. If we all thought about longevity—about our children’s mental and verbal health—we would encourage them to brush their teeth and read them a story before bed.
-Knowledge is boundless
Written by: Karim Eltawansy