In this day and age of advanced technology, we are exposed to the written word everywhere we look- on our phones, tablets, laptops, iPads, TV, and so on and so on. In fact, chances are very good that your kids are just as exposed as you are. And while this could be an awesome thing, there is one major disadvantage: it is putting a wall between us and our children.
Not only is it taking up too much of our time, it has stolen too many moments away from our families, as well.
One of my fondest childhood memories is of me sitting on my mom’s lap, listening to her read to me. I can still remember how soothing her voice was to me and how content I felt in those moments. Although I don’t remember this, my mother tells me that I used to sit and cry because I couldn’t read, which is why she taught me how at the age of 4.
I often wonder how many memories like this are being stolen from our precious children, not just because of technology, but because life seems to have become all hustle and bustle with no down time.
Which brings me to the purpose of this post. Here are…
5 Reasons Why You Should Read to Your Kids
1. It’s a bonding experience.
Let’s face it. Between sports, extracurricular activities, errands, and school work, it can be really tough to find a way to get some quality time in with your kids. There’s just nothing that can beat a good snuggle on Mom or Dad’s lap to listen to a good story. And don’t limit it to your little ones! I read to all of my kids, and even though the older kids may sometimes act like they’re too old for it, when your teenage daughter suddenly puts her head on your shoulder during read-aloud time or you have to break up fights over who gets to sit next to you, you know that it means more to them than they let on. 🙂
2. It introduces pre-readers to the world of books.
Isn’t there just something wonderful about holding a book in your hands? The illustrations, the feel of the pages in your fingers, and let’s not forget the smell- the older the book, the better-, a book in the hand is something that’s sure to awaken your little one’s senses to endless possibilities that can arise within those two covers. As I mentioned before, the act of my mother consistently reading to me was enough to stir in me the desire to do this on my own. I’ve heard accounts of so many children who learned to read simply by watching their mother’s finger move under the words, or just listening for the first word and the last word on every page. One important thing is worth mentioning, though. Do not read to your kids solely so that they learn how to read. Kids are smart, and they will pick up on that. Think of learning to read as an added bonus.
3. It increases your child’s vocabulary.
This week I’ll be finishing up reading Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie to my kids. I’ve been continually amazed by the level of difficulty in the vocabulary used in this book that was written for children! It really is a testament to the fact that much of today’s literature has really been dumbed down, and it’s an excellent example of why you should expose your children to the classics. Here is one sentence that illustrates this perfectly:
“It was a sanguinary affair, and especially interesting as showing one of Peter’s peculiarities, which was that in the middle of a fight, he would change sides.”
I’m not going to lie. The kids and I both struggled through the first chapter. But after reading chapter after chapter, we’ve come to love it, and the language used has become one of the most magical parts of the story. I daresay that a vocabulary curriculum would never be required if only quality literature were at your child’s disposal.
4. It sparks the imagination.
One of our other favorite read-alouds was Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Countless times after reading to the kids, I would later find them outside using old pieces of wood to build their own cabins and pretending they were churning butter. During the first snowfall while we were reading this book, my children insisted upon making the snow candy that was described in this book. They didn’t like it, but they had fun making it! We ended up loving it so much that we read through the whole series, and I wrote a unit study on it!
5. It enhances your child’s understanding of the world around them.
There’s nothing quite like watching a movie, seeing something on the news, or discovering something while you’re out and about when your child says, “Hey! Didn’t we read about that?” It’s so satisfying to see those connections being made. This is why I incorporate so much reading into our homeschool and so few textbooks (actually our elementary and middle school-age kids only use textbooks for spelling/phonics/grammar and math…EVERYTHING else is learned through living books). Humans are storytellers; we always have been. So, of course, we’re going to retain something better that is presented as a story. If you would ask a child who learned about frontier life from a textbook what he remembered about that time period, I almost guarantee you that he would remember far less than a child who was exposed to the Little House series.
I know this will sound redundant, but your children are only children for so long. One day, they will grow up and have children of their own. Isn’t this the sort of memory you’d like passed along?
If you haven’t been sharing this time with your kids, start now.
Get off your phone.
Get off your laptop.
Spend the day at home.
Read to your kids. It’s never too late.