Books open up worlds, this world, past, present and future, and thousands more, the worlds created by imaginations from every country, every culture, every language. All one needs to enter these worlds and experience all their adventures is to be able to read. Reading is the single most important skill a child can learn.
Being able to read, and read well, with a large vocabulary, has an impact on every aspect of a child’s life. Their educational success, social development, the expansion of their minds, their mental health, and their general well-being are all largely dependent on the ability to read.
Understanding the World
When your children read or you read to them, whether it be social studies or Tom Sawyer, your child will learn something about the world: that the earth is round or pear-shaped; that a day is 24 hours long; that China is on the other side of the world; and that coyotes chase roadrunners. They start to build images of how the world works which makes what they see and hear comprehensible. They are acquiring the background into which they can fit those images.
Developing Brain Structure
Studies have been done using modern brain imaging in children who are learning to read. Scientists have found changes in the frontal and parietal cortex in those children who have acquired the largest vocabulary and have the best reading abilities.
Reading about fictional or historical characters allows the child to stand in the character’s shoes and feel the emotions the character feels. The child learns about emotions by experiencing them vicariously. This is crucial for social development.
Experiencing Other Cultures
Books can transport us to every single culture on earth, as well as cultures on other worlds with alien beings. Each culture is crafted so that we can understand the way the people live and what they believe. This introduces the child to the fact that there are a lot of differences in the world.
Reading Skills and Success in Life
Defining success in life can be problematic. It can mean different things to many people. However, if you consider success as having a comfortable lifestyle, workplace achievements and acknowledgements, and general prosperity, scientists have correlated this outcome with reading skills. People who are accomplished readers generally have a higher standard of living than those who are poor readers. One large study in Britain followed men for fifty years. starting at age seven. The men who read, especially those who read frequently for pleasure, were more successful in life than those who didn’t.
The findings reveal that people who read voraciously accomplish the goals they have set for themselves in life, reach high levels in their chosen fields, and in general are prosperous. Those people that do not read and never acquire the skill and never become engaged in reading for pleasure have a higher level of unemployment. They have greater dependence on government subsidies and are more likely to develop antisocial behavior. A much higher percentage end up in prison.
Bonding With Parents
Perhaps the best aspect of reading to your children is the bonding that occurs between parent and child. The parent is necessarily physically close to the child which strengthen the connection. Reading a story every night before bed and at other times creates a close relationship between parent and child that will endure the trials and tribulations of the teenage years into adulthood.
The greatest gift you can give your child is to read them a story every chance you get. The time and effort it takes to tell a story are small. The gifts that storytelling brings are enormous. Give your child a bright and successful future. Give them the chance for prosperity and happiness. Simply read them stories every night if you can, and if they need extra help with literacy, consider getting them Orton Gillingham training so they can reap the rewards of reading all their lives.