With the school holidays in full swing, we thought we’d take the time to remind you why reading a book can be one of the most boredom-eliminating activities for children, whilst being a welcome school holiday sound-reducer for parents. Here are some of the main reasons why you should encourage your kids to read their way through the holidays:
Reading is exercise for the brain.
Reading is a much more complex task for children than say, watching television. It forces children to actively engage their brain – reading has been proven to physically strengthen and build the connections between different areas of the brain. Stronger connections can lead to greater levels of concentration and memory recall, skills that prove invaluable in the classroom.
Reading teaches children about the world around them.
Reading a variety of texts and forms enables children to learn about people, places and events outside their own experience. They are exposed to ways of life, ideas and beliefs about the world which may be different from those which surround them. Learning about the lives of others encourages appreciation of different cultures, something of great importance in a multi-cultural society. Furthermore, identifying with characters, whether real or imagined, allows children to develop empathy and understanding for others. By becoming aware of and empathetic to those around them, children can better handle social situations and reflect upon the actions of others.
Reading develops vital literacy skills.
Reading develops a child’s literacy skills, general knowledge and extends their vocabulary. It is no coincidence that the more a child reads, the better they do at school. Reading enhances children’s capacity to learn about new subjects and helps their critical thinking and ability to analyse – skills critical to children who often navigate the endless information source of the internet.
Reading, by way of novels, children’s stories, magazines or websites, exposes kids to new vocabulary. Even when they don’t understand every new word, they absorb something from the context that may deepen their understanding of it the next time the word is encountered.
Reading develops imagination.
When we read our brains translate the descriptions of people, places and things into pictures. When we’re truly engaged in a story, we will also begin to imagine how the characters are feeling and how we would feel in the same situation. Stories free up imaginations and open up exciting new worlds of fantasy or reality, in the past, present or future. It is this endless and infinite expanse of our imagination which leads to the frequent statement that ‘the book was much better than the movie’ – what a summer blockbuster with the latest technology can take years to produce, our imaginations can trump in mere moments.
Reading during the holidays reduces the risk of “slide”
Teachers often note that students return from their summer break with lower reading levels and interest in books than when they left in December. These claims are supported by research that shows that this is, in fact, the case. This is known as “slide” and refers to a drop in children’s reading ability following a lack of reading over the summer break. Prevent the slide for your children by picking up a book with them.
Reading is exciting and entertaining.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, reading can provide children with endless hours of fun and entertainment. Reading can be done almost anywhere, at any time, allowing children to dream and escape to worlds unlike their own. The easiest way to get children to read more is to provide them with books that align with their interests, by immersing children in a world they find exciting, you can give them a good start on the road to viewing reading as a lifelong source of pleasure.
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. – Dr. Seuss
Research source: Reading Psychology, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02702711.2010.505165
Further Credit: University of Canberra