Introducing Babies to Books is About More than Just Reading
There’s no denying the benefits of introducing children to books. There’s plenty of research out there that backs up the idea that reading to babies and children is beneficial for their language and literacy development. Children who are read to on a regular basis are typically better learners when they go to school. Because of this, it could be that some families look at books and book sharing as purely an educational activity to help ensure their children are reading earlier. While exposure to books has been shown to help children when they learn to read, I think we need to look at sharing books with babies and children as more than just a step towards literacy.
Engaging children with books and reading lays the foundations for creativity and creative thinking. It also gives children a love of knowledge and the power to pursue knowledge. A love of books can give us a love of words; the words we collect while reading stories help develop our vocabulary, which makes it easier for us to express ourselves. Stories also help children make sense of the world. Stories make it safer to explore difficult topics. Reading fiction can help children develop empathy.
A family reading together is forming strong bonds. This sense of safety and security makes it possible for children to learn. Attachment underpins learning, and children with a strong and secure attachment are in a better place to be able to learn.
It’s easy to look at books for just their educational value, and as a step towards literacy. But stories are so much more. Early book sharing is about inspiring play and creative thinking. It’s about helping children to explore, develop empathy and make sense of the world. Sure, reading to children is a natural step to help them learn to read, but before children learn to read, they need to develop a love of books and reading. The stories we read will stay with children a lifetime. And the benefits of this do too.