Read it again please! The importance of story time

bigstockphoto_Story_Time_588Reading to your kids is a crucially important part of your job as a parent.  And sometimes story time can begin to fall through the cracks of our busy lives.  So this week, I’m writing about the many reasons story time is such an important part of parenting.  I’m hoping to re-inspire you to commit to a daily story time for your kids whether they’re one-year-old, six, or twelve.

My parents all helped to teach me a love of reading that has enriched my life immensely.  My mom and dad read to me every night before bed when I was very young.  My step-mom read me “Little Women” over the course of several months when I was nine.  My mom read chapter books to my brother and me as my step-dad drove us miles and miles on our family vacations.  And in junior high and high school when I showed an interest in science fiction, my step dad turned me on to Douglas Adams.

Let’s explore how reading to your children at various ages supports their growth and development:

As a baby and toddler, your little one is picking up language skills at a phenomenal rate.  Reading to young people helps them increase their vocabulary, understand the parts of language, and learn the rules of English (if that’s your primary language).  There is nothing else you can do that has more of an impact on your child’s future ability to read and learn than a daily story time.  I recommend at least 30min. a day of reading together even with children as young as five or six months old.

When you point to objects and name them, your toddler can quickly learn to identify many more objects than he can verbalize.  Try asking your pre-verbal little one to point to the ball or shoe and you’ll be amazed at how much he can comprehend, even before he can speak.

As your child grows, story time becomes a bonding, connected time that your child can count on.  The emotional security that can grow from taking the time to sit down and read together is truly priceless.  It lets your child know first that she’s important to you and second, that reading and learning are fun.

And by pointing to the words on the page as you read, you’re helping her learn to recognize words.  Before you know it, she’ll be sight reading several words just because she’s had the repetition of hearing the word and seeing it on the page so many times before.

By using story time as a time to discuss moral lessons, develop problem-solving skills, and improve comprehension, you can have a deeply meaningful conversation with your child every day.  You can discover more about who your child is and what he values by asking questions about the story.  “Why do you think Peter told everyone there was a wolf when there really wasn’t?” or “How do you think Arthur is feeling right now?” and even, “Is there another way they could have done things that would have worked better?”

Young people can come up with some pretty creative solutions when given the opportunity to brainstorm with an open, accepting adult.  The depth of understanding and the creativity that children use to solve the problems with which I present them constantly amazes me.

As your child matures, you can begin to read chapter books together and have even more in-depth discussions about the characters, learning and understanding their motivations and even discussing moral conundrums.  “Do you think it was OK for Sally to steal food for her brothers and sisters?”

Even after your child is reading well on his own, he will still benefit from being read to for as long as he enjoys it.  And when he’s ready to transition to reading on his own for most of the time, you can each read the same book and discuss it afterward.

There’s no doubt in my mind that my ability to read well, comprehend easily, do well in school and become a good test taker were all a result of my parents’ commitment to the written word.  But that’s not the most compelling reason to read to your kids.  Imagine your favorite books and how deeply they’ve impacted you.  Think about that super funny novel you read last week or the newspaper article that shocked you and seemed to turn your world upside down.   Now imagine a world without those pleasures and surprises.  Are you ready to re-commit to a daily story time yet?  🙂  I sure hope so!

Have a fantastic week.  Warmly, Shelly

3 comments
Shelly
Shelly

Wow, I never knew that a preschool teacher inspired his obsession with Sherlock Holmes. That's fantastic!
.-= Shelly´s last blog ..Read it again please! The importance of story time =-.

Jim
Jim

I remember Shelly's brother being hooked on Sherlock Holmes at age 4 by a preschool teacher who read the stories to a small group of students. And these were the original versions not adaptations for children! I'm sure the kids didn't understand everything but they certainly understood more than I ever would have thought possible at that age. And, at least in my son, it inspired a life-long love of detective and mystery stories.

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