Jenny Silverstone on the Lifelong Benefits of Reading

Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading. This week, Jenny Silverstone from Mom Loves Best shares some of her insights on the lifelong value of reading.

We always are on the lookout for interesting insights and tips on the value of reading for kids. This week we wanted to share with you an excerpt from Jenny Silverstone’s article on the lifelong benefits of reading for children. Jenny Silverstone is a professional writer, mother of two, and advocate of the importance of childhood reading. She also contributes to the popular parenting website Mom Loves Best. We love what Jenny has to say about reading and really appreciate her sharing this post with us.

If you can get your kids to love cracking open a book, they are going to reap big benefits. Just by reading a few minutes every day to them while they are young, you may be sparking a lifelong love and helping them unlock the key to a bright and happy future. Let’s look at how reading can help them:

1. Boosting Cognitive Development 

Your baby’s brain will get a boost from hearing you read. Even when you think they aren’t getting any benefit because they’re so little, they’ll be learning. They’ll be taking in the changes of your facial expressions as you read and they’ll learn about the subject matter — numbers, shapes, colors, what noises are made by which animals.

As they get older, reading will help them develop their logical thinking ability and understand cause and effect.

2. Forging a Bond

Your baby loves getting bonding time with you. If you create a strong bond from the beginning, it will likely endure for the rest of your lives together.

When you’re reading, the bonding taking place is great because you are actively participating in the moment. Because you’re reading, you won’t have time to check your phone and you won’t be focusing on a television. All your attention will go toward the book and your baby’s response to it.

3. Calming

It may seem like a child has an ideal life — they get to let someone else pay the bills, and all they do is play, sleep and eat. But young children can get pretty worked up at times, and toddlers can be out of control when they are tired, cranky, and overstimulated.

Reading can offer a great way for your child to decompress. You can use it as a tool to help them right before bedtime or whenever you think they’re getting too wound up.

4. Encouraging Longer Attention Spans

We live in a click-bait world that loves instant gratification. Video games, cell phones, and screens, in general, have made it difficult for children to focus for long periods of time.

They don’t have to with those devices because they get instant rewards. Reading isn’t like that. It requires putting in some effort to get the payoff. You have to stick with a book right until the end to feel gratified.

5. Becoming Better Listeners

To pick up on what you’re talking about in the book, your child will have to hang on your every word. Being a good listener is something that will help your child tremendously when they are in school.

Being a good listener is an acquired skill, so anything you can do to help that along will be beneficial.

6. Unleashing Their Imagination

When kids stare at a screen, all their entertainment is laid out for them. It doesn’t stimulate their imaginations at all. But with reading, they hear the words and have to picture in their minds what kind of world that creates.

Whether it’s a Dr. Seuss book or something that requires more effort and imagination, such as the Harry Potter series, your child gets to envision what that world looks like and how they would react if they were the main character.

7. Creating Empathy

Books, especially chapter books, give your child complete insight into another character and their thoughts, hopes, dreams, and feelings. That’s a powerful tool when it comes to developing empathy. It helps them realize that people aren’t so different after all and that we all have the same basic needs and wants at the end of the day.

Books let a child feel what other people are going through, and that translates into their real-world interactions with others. A child who reads a book about bullying will truly understand how a child in their class feels when they’re being bullied. Hopefully, that knowledge will inspire them to take action on behalf of that student and create a kinder world, at least in their small corner of it.

Make Time for It!

As with anything else, reading becomes a habit. So the more often you do it, the more your child will want to do it on their own. Just a few minutes a day can set them up to unlock their potential as a reader, a student, and also as a caring citizen.

If you like to read more from Jenny on the benefits of childhood reading, you can find a longer version of this article here. Also make sure to checkout Mom Loves Best where Jenny shares her journey and experiences through parenthood.

(Infographics reproduced with permission from Mom Loves Best.)

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