“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. “
We all have our favorite childhood books, those that transport us to magical and distant places. Those books that allowed us to discover the power of imagination and brought us good memories of home and family. Nowadays, girls and boys face a world full of visual distractions and electronic devices. We need to remove all distractions that keep them away from the habit of reading. Getting boys and girls interested in literature is a very important task as parents and teachers. The more you read to your children, the more knowledge they absorb, and knowledge is important in all aspects of life.
Why are stories important?
Stories shape our world and help us understand social life. We all remember stories from our childhood, those that shaped our view of the world. Reading can show children great tales that enrich their world and help them deal with real life situations. Scientists have found that when we read fiction, our brain perceives the experiences very similar to real life. This is why reading helps children solve problems. In addition, studies have demonstrated that children who read fiction regularly find it easier to understand other people as they become more empathic.
We can find many authors who have made reading an entertainment activity, through great stories and beautiful illustrations. We can ask for stories that represent important values, such as empathy, equality, tolerance and respect. Literature is an excellent tool to learn about important values, through characters and stories that reflect how these values are represented in reality. (1)
Founded in 1967, International Children’s Book Day is annually sponsored by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), an international non-profit organization. The day was set close to Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. On this day, the works of children’s book authors are published in diverse cities around United States. Also, there are many activities in schools and libraries, designed to encourage reading habits in children.
Leaders are readers, and there is no doubt about it. Through reading, girls and boys can travel to unknown cities, discover how an electronic device works, and learn to experiment with science or discover simple ways to start an initiative in a community. Reading stimulates children’s creativity and awakens interest in the things that surround them. It also increases their vocabulary, as well as their cultural and mental agility. All these tools can help kids get involved with values and be prepared for the future as possible agents of change in their communities.
In Education for Sharing, we aim for children who play, reflect, propose, and participate in communities where they are valued and perceive themselves as agents of change. In this vision, literature and books represent an essential and entertaining tool. Girls and boys can explore perspectives from around the world. They can discover how other children around the world live, how they play, how they communicate with others, how they think about their communities and how they reflect and propose solutions to problems. Also, girls and boys learn how to be emphatic and tolerant towards children of other nationalities and reinforce their language skills when communicating with other languages and cultures.
Some of the benefits of encouraging reading from a young age are:
- Improves communication skills. Reading gives girls and boys the language skills that help them communicate better with others. They learn to be empathetic and tolerant of others’ needs and preferences. It also helps them to solve conflicts, to express their emotions, and to improve their linguistic abilities. Improving communication skills strengthen values such as gender equality, empathy, and tolerance. Children can also expand their vocabulary, learning the meaning of complicated words.
- Improves the relationship between parents and children. Establishing a reading time during the day encourages the quality time between parents and children. It improves the relationship and communication between them, increasing that special bond. It’s very important that children see this reading time as a fun activity, not as homework. Reading time with parents strengthen values such as teamwork, responsibility, and respect. Another benefit from having this time with children is that parents can ask their children questions, and children can ask their parents about confusing issues presented in the stories. Simple questions such as ¨Why do you think this character did that? ¨. This can help children understand and respect the viewpoints of others.
- Children develop logical thinking skills. Through reading, abstract concepts become more accessible. Children learn the relationship between cause and effect, the use of common sense and logic, as well as the intellectual and moral development that leads to better growth. This activity enhances values as teamwork and tolerance.
- Reading favors discipline and concentration. Reading helps improve memory retention. With this activity children reinforce values such as tolerance and responsibility.
- Reading with your children helps foster empathy. When a girl or boy manages to put him or herself in the characters’ place, it helps develop the value of empathy. They identify with the characters and feel what they are feeling. Children begin to understand and relate to emotions.
Here are some tips to enjoy reading with your children:
. Try to set the example, allow your children to see you reading and enjoying it.
. Visit libraries and bookstores together. Make your trip a fun adventure.
. Give them books continuously, not only on their birthday. Try to choose books and stories related to their personalities and hobbies.
. Dedicate a time of the day to read a story.
. Strengthen the knowledge of values (empathy, tolerance, respect, responsibility, gender equality, teamwork and fair play) by choosing literature containing these values.
(1) We recommended a book named: ¨Good night rebel girls¨, a inspiring book to dream bigger, aim higher, and fight harder in gender equality, through a hundred stories and portraits of great women, from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.