National Read Across America Day (aka Dr. Seuss Day) is observed each year on March 2nd. It’s not only a fun celebration of Dr. Suess’ birthday, but also a great opportunity to talk about the importance of reading. At Koinonia, we are passionate about educating parents on early childhood development and the impact your family culture inevitably has on a child. Reading can make a huge difference in both of these areas. 

You’ve heard it many times: reading improves our vocabulary, literacy, brain function, memory, etc. The intellectual benefits are overwhelming. And while the academic advantages are widely known, the positive impact reading can have in the areas of social and emotional development are often overlooked. Here’s a list of the less well-known benefits of reading:

Encourages empathy – Especially when reading fiction, readers have the opportunity to put themselves in a character’s shoes; the exact skill needed to have empathy for others.

Reduces stress – Reading engages the reader’s imagination and allows their brain to enter into a more meditative state.

Improves emotional articulation – The exposure to a wider vocabulary gives the reader more adequate tools to express their emotions.

Enhances understanding of relationships – A good novel offers an in-depth depiction of just how intricate real-world relationships and situations can be. Reading different storylines and character interconnections, we become more insightful in our own relationships.

These are just a few examples of how reading can improve the emotional intelligence of both children and adults. Of course, it’s easy to spout off research and facts; the real challenge is putting this into practice. As parents, the million dollar question is, “How do I get my kids to read?” or “How do I make reading fun?” Glad you asked!

Take trips to the library – Take advantage of this free resource! Most libraries have story time and other events for children. Not only will your kids start associating reading with fun, but they’ll also love the opportunity to pick out their own books.

Strategically place books – Put them In the car, in each room of the house, in backpacks, etc. Make it convenient for yourself and your children to pick up a book at any moment.

Listen to audio books – Especially if your child is an auditory learner, audio books can be a great way to get them excited about reading! It can also be helpful to read hands-free if your kiddo does better with the freedom to move around or if you need to multitask.

Let your child choose – It’s rare that kids get to call the shots. They will be much more invested in whatever you’re doing if they have a say. Let them pick books that interest them and be on the lookout for storylines you know they’ll enjoy.

Read aloud – Reading books aloud together not only makes it more exciting, but can also be a bonding moment for you and your child. Try using voices for the different characters or trading off who reads.

Get caught reading – You’ve probably heard the saying, “more is caught than taught.” If your child sees you reading, they are much more likely to pick up the habit.

Encourage all forms of reading – Books are not the only way to get reading. Magazines, comic books, and newspapers are other fun forms of reading your kid might enjoy more than the traditional book.

Jasmyne Newman, Contributor


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