Books, books, books!
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”
– Dr Seuss
Most children love to hear stories. There is a gradual process by which children see that there is a definite relationship between the telling of a story and the written word. Eventually the child’s vocabulary will begin to develop as well as their ability to retell stories and imagine ones of their own. Exposure to a wide variety of books will foster an appreciation of books and a love of reading within the child. They may consciously, or unconsciously, become aware that stories have sequences and they will learn to recognise key information about the text by looking at the illustrations.
The introduction to picture books will lay the foundation which will be built upon as they get older and read more complex stories. If a love of books and reading is modelled by parents or teachers, then the child will develop a positive attitude toward listening to stories and reading books. If I think of my own classroom, there is a child who is a perfect example of how books and reading can positively impact a child’s cognitive, emotional, language and social development. The aforementioned child is fascinated by planets and he enjoys browsing through books about the solar system. Even though he can’t yet gain any information from the text, he is able to obtain and share information about the stories through the pictures.
One of the most special spaces in our classroom is the book corner. It is where the child can have a seat quietly and look at the books alone or with a friend.
There are a number of benefits that books and reading can provide for a child’s holistic development. A few examples of these are outlined below:
Stories may generate an awareness of different emotions and help the child to recognise and process their own. The themes conveyed and the characters represented are usually ones that appeal to children and can be used as a vehicle to develop moral character and or imagination within the child. Having relatable issues within the story can sometimes provide a relevant example of how certain problems, which the children might be faced with themselves, can be resolved or how particular situations can be navigated successfully.
Stories can also provide a window into different cultures which can extend children’s knowledge and understanding of the world by giving them access to cultures that they may have never otherwise been exposed to.
Stories also develop children’s vocabulary and ability to understand unfamiliar words from context. Reading helps to facilitate a healthy imagination by painting a picture using words.
An active imagination is one of the most beneficial products nurtured by reading or listening to stories. Reading facilitates creativity by using the imagination to consider different outcomes and scenarios.
As Einstein said: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Imagination is the door to possibilities”
Reading and books are not the only vessels through which stories can be told. Making up stories with a child can be a great exercise to practice sequencing a story. It can even be made personal, by suggesting that the child be the main character of their story. Moral dilemmas and character arcs can also be introduced and the collaborative creation of a story can be used as a learning tool, in addition to being a fun and entertaining game.
Empathy & Compassion
Reading helps children to develop empathy and compassion. As children develop they begin to imagine how they would feel in that situation. As we read, our brains translate the descriptions we read of people, places and things into pictures. While we are engaged in a story we are also imagining how a character is feeling. Young children then bring this knowledge into their everyday play.
This reminds me of an occasion during circle time when a child had something to share, specifically “the book said it’s good to be kind”. This information was relevant to the circle time topic, but he used the knowledge gained from a book (read to him by his mother the previous evening) and he shared it with us. Books undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on children.
As children read, they are captured by the events of the story. By following a narrative, they are drawn to certain characters and away from others. They play a mental guessing game of what they want to happen versus what they think will happen which keeps them engaged and turning the page.
Reading aloud to your child sharpens their focus and provides them with the opportunity to explore people, places, times, and events beyond their own experiences.
Having a book corner that is beautiful and attractive, with books neatly arranged will always attract and invite children. Books are not only entertaining, but they are akin to a portal that can transport children to a whole new world.
Inspired by our new classroom favourite;
‘The book with no pictures’
by BJ Novak.
Virginia is a co-teacher in our Emerald classroom where she guides children aged 3 to 6+ years old. One of Virginia’s favourite curriculum area is ‘Knowledge & Understanding of the World’ (Cultural) – an area filled with materials and books creating windows for our little gems to peek into others worlds, wanting to know more. A rich and carefully prepared book corner triggering the love for books can also be found. If you are curious to learn more about Little Gems “book world”, get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call!