“Once Upon a Time…”
There’s just something magical about those words, whether they’re read from a book or coming from the imagination.
Reading and storytelling play an important role in children’s language development. All children, from infants to elementary age students benefit from being read to and being told stories.
In the past children learned to communicate through interaction in mixed-age family groups, but today children spend much of their time with other children, or watching TV and in other “screen time” activities. This means that they miss out on opportunities to develop valuable communication and social skills. As a parent, reading and talking with your child gives you a great opportunity to model appropriate language.
Young children enjoy books that are repetitious and predictable. Books that repeat the same phrases over and over delight children because they know what’s coming, and because they can say the phrases with you, which gives them the feeling that they’re reading with you.
During the preschool years children acquire language more rapidly than any other time in their life. Listening to books and stories helps them learn how to communicate with others. In addition, being read to helps them learn how speech relates to printed words as they begin to realize that the symbols on the page have meaning.
With older children it’s important for you to make time for discussion after reading books. Not only will older children bask in your undivided attention, they’ll also benefit from the insights to be gained from books. Many books help children learn about feelings, which is why they enjoy reading stories about other children having similar experiences – like fears about going to the hospital or jealousy over a new sibling.
Children of all ages love to imagine and pretend. Books and stories provide the opportunity for children to become completely absorbed in a world of fantasy. They also allow children to be silly; many of our most cherished nursery rhymes may not make sense, yet they evoke powerful images and reinforce word rhythms and rhymes.
Best of all, reading books and sharing stories with your children provides them with the undivided attention they love. It’s a warm and cuddly time that they’ll always remember.