Reading comprehension is a crucial element of children’s academic development. Without strong reading skills, success in other fields—including mathematics, social sciences, and natural sciences—is difficult. Perhaps equally obvious is reading’s influence on speech development in young children. The more children are read to, the better their ability to develop appropriate speech patterns. But there are, in fact, a plethora of other ways reading can help children’s overall development. So in case you aren’t already reading to or encouraging your kids to read, here are some reasons to start, and some books to start with.
Stories detail experiences from other people’s (or animals’, bugs’, etc.) point of view. They can open up children’s knowledge to these new experiences, and they can offer points of comparison for situations kids come to in their own lives. For these reasons, reading can help develop children’s ability to empathize as well as their social skills. Some BQB books that elicit empathy for and promote good behavior toward others are The Ugly Bug Ball, a vibrant picture book for kids, and Forgiving Waters, a novel with an important social lesson for middle schoolers.
Logic development and reasoning skills are important for children to acquire, and reading can help. Learning to grasp abstract concepts, understand cause-and-effect relationships, and apply logical reasoning all take place when following a story through its narrative. A good way to enhance this experience is to choose books that have mysteries or problems that need solving. Inspector Rumblepants and the Case of the Golden Haggis is one such example for tweens, and Filly Girls is a great selection for younger kids.
Books challenge the reader’s knowledge, not least in the new vocabulary they offer. Learning new words through books is one of the best ways to improve children’s vocabulary and word recognition. While any book can function in this way, those that offer concepts that children aren’t already familiar with are most ideal. Come Out to the Garden introduces kids to vegetables, familiar and new, while Together Again helps them understand adoption from a child’s point of view.
With the advent of children’s eBooks, especially the interactive variety, reading can increasingly develop children’s hand-eye coordination. Even traditional books, however, that encourage movement can develop this skill. Bearful Bear and His New Moves is a book that will have tots wanting to get up and move.
Finally, reading encourages children’s imaginations by offering tales of incredible places and impossible feats and making them happen. Stories that create new worlds and have completely unfamiliar characters are the best for this. Some suggestions from BQB are Beyond the Firefly Field and The Enchanting World of Garden Irene McGeeny.
What other benefits of reading can you come up with? Let us know in the comments!