One of the most important activities you can do at home before children go to school is to read books because reading books to kids builds brain power. Books are superfood for brains.
How much reading do you have to do in a day? While some jobs are mostly hands-on, many ordinary tasks involve reading. Any important road signs you read on your way to work? Your phone may beep to remind you to do something, but you likely check text messages countless times a day. Picking up a few groceries involves reading. Now toddlers and preschool kids aren’t yet reading, but the challenge of learning to read is far, far easier on kids that have experience with books.
Let’s make a quick switch from words to numbers. If you read 5 books a day to your child a few times a week, that’s 25 books. In just a month, that’s 100 books and in a year, 1000. By the time your child gets to school, you have downloaded 5000 books into the brain’s computer. That’s like a library already there in your child’s brain. No wonder learning to read is so much easier for kids that have had lots of books from home.
Have you heard the saying of “stealing a march on someone?” It means to gain an advantage. Kids who have had opportunities with books before they get to school “steal a march” on those who haven’t. There’s no doubt being a good reader is a tremendous advantage. Being a poor reader is a tremendous disadvantage and it can follow kids for a lifetime. So much so, that some research reports that government bases the size of prisons on the reading scores of third-graders. While this may not be accurate, it certainly underscores how difficult it can be not to read well.
In a day, we don’t have to wait until bedtime to read books. Try a wake-up story. Listen to a story in the car. Share a book while waiting in line at the bank. Waiting for the cookies to bake is just enough time to enjoy a book or two. In the bath, the book has to be an imaginary one; “Once upon a time, there was a dinosaur in the tub…”
Kids books are expensive, so also visit your local library and neighborhood garage sales. Reading books to kids builds brain power. How do you include them in your child’s day?
Kids can be friends with books, and that’s another very important one to have. This is friendship month and we can share some great books with kids.
Eric Carle is one of my favorite children’s authors. A fairly recent one is Friends. This is the story of a two friends. To get together one of them swims a wide river, climbs tall mountains, hikes across a grassy field, and makes it through other places. Not all friends will connect at the end like the two do in this book, but the story shares the message that friends will go to great lengths for each other.
Another fun book is Ollie’s Valentine, by Olivier Dunrea. There are several books in the series about the friends Ollie, Gossie, and others. These little animals turn even the ordinary into adventures. The stories give clues about how to be friends, like sharing and waiting. The surprise ending in this book includes children hearing and reading the story in the circle of friends.
Being friends with books has amazing advantages for kids. Hearing stories over and over not only adds hundreds of words to vocabulary but millions of words to the brain’s language files. This increases the brain’s processing speed for language. Do you remember someone when you went to school who always had a hand up to answer questions faster than anyone else? This student may not have been any smarter than the rest, but could process the question faster.
One of the biggest tasks kids have at school is learning to read. By reading and sharing books and stories with your child, you make this much easier. Kids not only know how books work, they also know how print works. They understand the black lines and squiggles are the words we say marked down on a page. Reading is connecting these marks to what they mean. For a play-of-the-day, share any stories and books. What are some books that help so kids can be friends with books?
Would you be smarter if you could download 1,000 books into your brain? Downloading 5,000 books into your child’s brain can be done in minutes a day. Reading to your child a few minutes every day is a super new year’s resolution. The following infographic shows how easy it is for just a few books a day to be over one thousand in just a year, but here’s the quick math. Five books a day, five times a week, is 25 books in a week, or 100 in a month. Twelve months times 100, is over 1,000. By the time a child goes to school at age 5, that’s the staggering number of 5 to 6,000 books. Even if it’s 1 favorite book, 1,000 times, it still counts!
Reading books doesn’t just have to happen at bedtime. Some families find a few minutes in the morning for a book or two. Breakfast for the mind. Tuck a small book into a bag for sharing in line at the grocery store or the bank, or anywhere else you have to wait. For other times, share a story that you remember like The Three Little Pigs or one that you make up from imagination. Here’s a story to start “Once upon a time, instead of waking up to breakfast, everybody slept all day and woke up to supper….” You can finish it however you like.
Share books and stories in your family language and the language of the country where you live. Yes, there are digital stories that kids can access but, like a secret ingredient in a recipe, the interaction between a child and a parent that takes place on a lap is very important. Pass along the family stories, the ones about when you went to school and others. In an article about Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, Eric Barker quotes him as saying:
…researchers at Emory did this study that showed that the kids who know more about their family history had a greater belief that they could control their world and a higher degree of self-confidence. It was the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being. (The Week: 6 things the happiest families all have in common)
Your voice in books and stories will echo in your child’s memory for a lifetime. Just a few minutes a day is all it takes. Will this be a new year’s resolution for you and your child?
Helping Children Learn to Play with Books We don’t usually think of books as toys but they are great to play with, once children know how. For such toys as balls or blocks, children easily discover ways they can play, but for books, we need to participate with children many times. Playing with kids and … Continue reading Helping Kids Learn to Play Series: #8 Books
Series Part #8: To Help Kids Get Ready for Kindergarten Read and Share Books and Stories One of the most powerful ways to help kids get ready for kindergarten is to read and share books and stories. Many, many books and stories. The importance of books is not an exaggeration. In families that read stories … Continue reading Help Get Kids Ready for Kindergarten by Reading
Instead of paragraphs of reasons about why it’s so important to read to kids for early learning and brain development, here is a graphic ↓↓ that tells a few in just a quick glance. You can use all the excitement about soccer and find some some stories to share with kids of all ages.There are … Continue reading Soccer, Soccer: Read All About It and Score!
Have you been following the campaign to bring back the much loved TV show Reading Rainbow? “Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high.” These were the starting lyrics and the underlying message for each episode was that with books, kids could “go anywhere and be anything.” But there was a message of … Continue reading How To Grow A Library in Your Child’s Mind
When reading about silly pranks today, I discovered that in some countries it was also Edible Book Day. At first I thought this was a really clever prank, but it’s been happening for 14 years around the world. Typically, it’s celebrated around April 1st and everywhere people get to “eat their words” as they enjoy … Continue reading Edible Book Day? Not April Fool’s!
More than plants grow in Spring. Did you know that Spring can help grow children’s learning in math, science, language, kindergarten readiness, and more? While writing today’s blog post I found 2 bits of information that fit together like pieces of a puzzle. The first was a video from First 5 in California. During the … Continue reading Spring Grows All Kinds Of Learning For Kids
This month is a great time to talk about well-loved fun and learning activities that help kids with kindergarten readiness and early childhood development. One of the most powerful activities that we can do with kids is to read and share stories and books. Unfortunately, we tend to think of it as ordinary and everyday. … Continue reading Books Help Kindergarten Readiness and Early Learning