Sunday, October 30, 2016

Parents, Take Time to Read With Your Children

As an author in the child development industry, it is important to make the parent/child reading experience a fun place for children and adults to expand their imaginations. As a graduate student at Northwestern University focusing on child development in reading, I have found two articles on nurturing a child's imagination which you will find interesting.

In Regan McMahon’s article titled "How to Nurture Your Child's Love of Reading" about reading to children, gives great tips on how to lead by example. “...parents influence kids' appreciation of books by sharing their own love of literature and modeling reader behavior”; what a simple yet strong statement. Reading is less of a good habit, but more of an exploration and experience. From toddlers to young seasoned readers, sharing a book together is a moment that is more beneficial than realized. McMahon states that reading aloud to children is also a wonderful tactic, as they can relax and learn more than just about the story they are hearing; they can “hear the rhythm of the language and learn correct pronunciation.” Series of children’s books have been around for decades. This helps continue the excitement of reading. Another inspiring way to encourage reading, is to pay attention to certain subjects children are interested in or favorite authors. McMahon touches on e-books for reluctant readers, as they may have other elements of enticement, but believes they are too distracting. A page turning animation can be found through e-books, which solidifies how the experience of a tactile book is timeless and important for a long-time reader.


The pediatrician, Perri Klass, finds the benefit of tactile books so important, that she gives “developmentally appropriate children’s book at every checkup.” In "The Merits of Reading Real Books to Your Children", Klass speaks of certain benefits of electronic books to help with connections between words and images, but the elements and animations found on these devices are a “cognitive overload” and take away from the human experience with their parents or family. Less communication has been found through studies when electronics are involved compared to more communication when playing with traditional toys. Along with these findings, even more interaction and communication is shared when using picture books. A fascinating discovery in Klass’s article explains how parents benefit from story-time as well. Parents, without realizing it, gain much more from the physical touch of their child when side by side reading a book together. It is an endless exchange of care, love and learning.

From my review of these two articles along with my learnings from Northwestern, here are three action items you should consider when raising your children.  

Action Items:

  • Challenge Your Children - A child’s intellectual and emotional levels gain greater development with a tangible book in hand.

  • Explore Through Imagination - Scenes in children’s picture books support a child’s vision, and ultimately allows them to continue the story in their mind.

  • Develop Positive Thoughts - The content for children in books must develop their mind in a positive and constructive way.

Real books and e-books will continue to co-exist. The key is they should be utilized for their most beneficial purpose. The elements and experience are completely different, even though they both contain stories. The strong human inspirations that come from the simplicity of a book should not be overlooked. It is important to expose books to children at a very young age and continue to young adulthood so they may become lifelong readers.

Jennifer Bozek
Jennifer is a graduate student at Northwestern University in the Professional Studies program Information Design and Strategy. She is also a self-published children's book author and illustrator as well as an advertising graphic designer. 
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