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Reading as a Family to Give Your Children an Educational Boost

Reading as a Family to Give Your Children an Educational Boost

A friend of mine recently mentioned that her one-year-old daughter was finally starting to get interested in books, even to the point of interacting with them. She then imitated her daughter’s toddler voice as they delved into a Bible storybook the other day, her little girl scolding and admonishing Adam and Eve not to eat the forbidden fruit.

We found such perception at such a young age quite amazing … and yet, why should we? Children are able to understand far more than we give them credit for, especially when reading is a regular part of their families.

November is National Family Literacy Month, and as such, it’s a great time to remind ourselves just why we should take time to read aloud to our children, young and old alike.

For starters, reading with children boosts vocabulary. According to Dr. Laura Phillips from the Child Mind Institute, “books expose children to vocabulary and grammar that they wouldn’t normally hear.” The more books you read to your children, the more it’s like they’re living in a household of adults with varied backgrounds and language patterns. Hearing this variety broadens a child’s own language ability.

Reading to your children also expands their understanding intellectually and emotionally. Books introduce children to a wide variety of subjects, broadening their knowledge base, Phillips says, and they “also help kids learn how to handle their own feelings in healthy ways.”

But perhaps most importantly, reading fosters physical connection between parent and child:

‘The physical contact that you get from being held by your parent while you’re reading actually helps to engage neurons in the brain, which make kids more receptive to the language and the cognitive stimulation that they’re getting from that experience,’ Dr. Phillips says.

So if you want to see your child to succeed in school and life in general, why not pick up a book this evening or weekend and begin reading together as a family? If you’re not sure where to start, then I have good news: I recently ran across an old reading list that my mom used for book ideas when I was a little girl. Here are a few options from that list to get you started:

  1. The Perilous Road, by William O. Steele
  2. Henner’s Lydia, by Marguerite de Angeli
  3. Strawberry Girl, by Lois Lenski
  4. The Cabin Faced West, by Jean Fritz
  5. Amos Fortune, Free Man, by Elizabeth Yates
  6. Justin Morgan Had a Horse, by Marguerite Henry
  7. Follow the Drinking Gourd, by Jeanette Winters
  8. Wilderness Journey, by Ruth N. Moore
  9. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, by Margaret Sidney
  10. Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

This article appeared first on OAKMN.org under a Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0) license.

Image credit: Pexels


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  • Avatar
    Rebekah Adams
    November 6, 2023, 7:57 pm

    Strawberry girl was one of my favorite childhood books. Lois Lenski was an amazing author, who painted pictures of real American life and the children that lived it, and I am thrilled to see her work mentioned here.

  • Avatar
    Bill Howard
    November 7, 2023, 4:52 am

    I recall reading with my daughter every night before bed. It bonded us like nothing else and I still reap its rewards. The precious, brief time of childhood can set a relationship that will reward or plague one in adulthood. It's our choice.

    • Avatar
      Bill Tirre@Bill Howard
      November 7, 2023, 1:03 pm

      The time spent reading to or reading with your child is precious. My wife and I read books (including the Bible every night) to our three sons, and they all grew up to be fine Christian men. I wrote my first book for children ages 8 to 12 with the idea that parent and child read it together. The title is "The Adventures of Spunky and Leonard." Spunky is a two-inch-tall alien who befriends Leonard. Spunky has technology that enables him to shrink down Leonard so that he can fit into Spunky's spaceship. Boys and their fathers will especially like this book, full of adventure, action, and whimsical humor.

  • Avatar
    November 7, 2023, 1:33 pm

    I was not the best "Hop on Pop" or "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" Dad . . . but once we got to "The King's Stilts" and "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins", I had really hit my stride. I always had a book going with my sons. The last book I read to my sons was "The Exorcist" . . . right before my older son left for college. I wanted them to know that the devil was real . . . We had a GREAT time along the way. Sometimes we would only read half a page and wind up talking for a while–about everything from Communism to nuclear reactor theory (actually both of those came up during "The Hunt for Red October". We did the "Chronicles of Narnia", "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings", "Captains Courageous", "The Bridges at Toko-Ri", and many others . . .


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