In the past couple of years, my wife and I noticed how many parents at our son’s school, neighbors and even some of our relatives with kids were complaining about their youngsters not wanting to read books. Some of them, however, wasn’t planning on changing the situation. For me it was sheer surprise, I remember myself being a bookworm, and was thinking our son inherited this love for stories and books too (thank God!).
Ever since he was a baby, we were reading him stories, simply just to spend another minute with our child. Now he’s 8, and he loves his books! I happily indulge him with new adventure books about pirates, treasures and such. After finishing a story before going to bed, he tells me all about it the next day at breakfast.
As you can see, I’m a voracious reader in general but also, of kids short stories. It’s not just me who advocates this, science has long since proven its many benefits.
Why is it important to read stories to children?
The thing is, long before they start speaking, babies absorb information about language. Children that are spoken to are a lot faster at understanding words. Psychologist Anne Fernald, for example, notes that kids who can quickly process words by the age of two are better at school at eight. Other research she mentions shows that it’s a good base for the child to be good in education further on, get a good job, remain married and stay out of prison. Only upsides so far, right?
I don’t need to explain the superb advantages that books bring. Not only do they contain rich language, varied in its beauty, they also boost children’s imagination and memory which is required to follow the plot. Reading books to and with children regularly advances their language skills, helps them learn about the world – Jumpin jehosaphat, in my time, I read so many Jules Verne books that I thought I could navigate a ship through the storm with my eyes closed! And of course, it helps their own reading in school.
Why is it important to tell stories to children?
I think I’ve made it pretty clear how reading gives kids educational benefits, but so does sharing with them stories from the past. Especially when your kids grow old enough to read their own books, but you both still want to spend time together.
If you don’t know where to start, let me give you some ideas. Think of stories that would be fun, but also teach your child something at the same time. Children of parents who tell them reminiscent stories demonstrate better understanding of other people’s thoughts and emotions. These skills will help them at school and when getting along with other students.
- Who has been one of the most important people in your life? Can you tell about him or her? Family and friends are the most important people in our lives, so stories like these have to explain to kids how relationships work, and why we value them so much.
- Are you still friends with people from high school? Same as the first one, a story like this should teach about relationships, but also give a slight warning that people can go separate ways. But hey, there’s always a place for new friendships too!
- Where did you go on vacations as a child? This one was one of the hardest for me! I had to show that their dad was a cool kid 😉
- How did you get your first job? Stories like these will teach your child to go for what they want, overcome obstacles, and teach responsibility.
- What did you hide from your parents as a child? I have to admit, I wasn’t really that close to my parents, and I didn’t want it to be that way with my son. I told him stories about my secrets to show him it’s okay to keep something to yourself, but sometimes it’s even better to share your secrets and worries with your parents who might help you.
Tell your stories in a detailed and responsive way – later on, this will help your child speak in a richer language. Details of your family life will give your children a stronger sense of identity and better coping skills, as well as strengthen their connection to the important people in their lives.
The best thing about those stories is that, unlike books, they cost nothing but our time and creativity, and are naturally mobile. You don’t need any lights to share memories from a day that’s just passed by, or from a summer from when you were 9, and your own dad took you fishing for the first time. Family stories of all sorts can be part of daily interactions with children into adolescence, past the age of bedtime stories. I mean, I still have to hear all about noisy neighbors and a bad TV program, whenever we’re visiting grandma and grandpa!
Share your memories with your kids, yes, even the oddest and the worst ones! After all, we want to teach them something, right? Be generous with your stories, and remember that your children may carry them in their hearts and minds for a lifetime.