Reading has always been a big part of my life. My grandma worked at a library when I was growing up, and I have many fond memories of spending afternoons there in the summer, bringing home stacks of books, and participating in the summer reading program. I’ve always loved getting lost in books. I love the experience of finding a book that is so good that I just can’t put it down because I need to find out what happens to the characters, but then I’m so disappointed when it ends because I want the story to keep going. So many books have made me laugh and cry. Books have been an escape for me when I need to get away, a distraction when I need to clear my mind.
I’ve been reading to my little ones every day since they were born – some days more than others. Soren would read all day if we’d let him. Stella’s interest isn’t quite there yet, but she is getting more curious, and I’ll keep trying.
There is something quite magical about witnessing the excitement of reading through a child’s eyes.
Some things never cease to amaze me and fill my heart with so much joy: how Soren memorizes so many lines from so many books, how he acts out favorite scenes later in the day, how he glances over at me to see my reaction to a certain page. I love the coziness of sitting together on the couch with a pile of books and snuggling up close at storytime before bed.
The English teacher in me is already looking forward to when they are a little older, and we can all sit down and have DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time as a family. Since I know how important it is to help foster an interest in and to model reading, I will make sure our little ones see both of their parents reading often. Until then, we’ll keep reading favorites repeatedly and soak up this time when the magic of stories can truly inspire some imagination.
I want my little ones to have the love for reading that I do. And there are so many reasons why.
The educational benefits
Reading is an exercise for our brain. Research shows us that it improves our language skills. Spending time with a book every day improves not only our concentration but also our reading, vocabulary, spelling, and writing skills. It also promotes achievement in all school subjects – not just English – and encourages the practice of lifelong literacy.
The social and emotional benefits
Exploring books with a variety of characters experiencing a range of moods and emotions is a great way to help our children understand their own feelings. Reading can help them understand that the way they feel is ok and can help them see they are not alone. Reading books (particularly fiction) can also help foster empathy. Reading can also help develop imagination.
The power to expand their world
Reading can teach our little ones about people, places, and events outside of their own experience. I have a strategy for picking out library books with my son. We pick out books together, but my goal is for half of them to have characters that don’t look like him. This is a great way to learn about and celebrate different cultures and people.
The important thing here is that it’s never too late to start. Whether you already have a reading routine with your little ones or don’t at all, make a plan to sit down and read together. Make it a part of your daily routine.
Looking for some motivation? March is National Reading Month, and Read Across America Day is March 2nd. You can browse the Read Across America site for book ideas and then head to the library with your kids to check some out. Enjoy the time together.