I’m trying to think when I first started reading my own books, what the stories were about, and where I got these books from. The answers don’t really matter; all I know is that as an adult, reading is mostly to gain knowledge and to understand life and people better. I do read stories, but I am more interested in non-fiction. How exactly this taste developed, I can’t really say. I do know that as a child I had many story books, from Grimm to fairytales. We also had encyclopaedias. What a strange idea, to have books to look up something, especially because books do not have up to the minute updated information like we do have today by the touch of the screen.
There is so much competition for the book today. In my days it was only playing that competed with books. Yet, developing a love and appreciation for the written word seems very important to me. I do want Mishka to be able to take a book and spend some time on her own, where words can develop into ideas, mind-pictures, her own creations.
Luckily I love books, my parents do too. Mishka got books as presents from when she was a baby. Whenever she visited her Granny Ronnie, there was always a book to page through, some even had sounds to make the experience a little bit more real.
Mishka does not go to sleep without her bedtime story. This started from when she started sleeping in her own room. It is thought that reading aloud to your child sparks cognitive development. The pronunciation of words helps children develop language skills. Reading to your child helps them understand the world around them better. The way books are written provide children with grammatical skills more so than just talking to them. It is descriptive and informative. It inspires questions and talking points between you and your child. It ignites the imagination.
Many parents want their kids to be able to read before they go to primary school, we all feel that pressure. Indeed reading is very helpful for kids to understand their environment better, but it is not expected. Reading to your child can help jumpstart this process, they will see the words in the book and become curious about understanding it and being able to read it themselves. In a way it prepares them for academic success, according to one of the articles a researched as background, reading has the following advantages:
- Phonemic awareness – Being able to hear, identify, and play with individual sounds in spoken words.
- Phonics – Being able to connect the letters of written language with the sounds of spoken language.
- Vocabulary – The words kids need to know to communicate effectively.
- Reading comprehension – Being able to understand and get meaning from what has been read.
- Fluency (oral reading) – Being able to read text accurately and quickly.
More than anything, reading is a way to bond in a very special way. For me as a parent, it is a few minutes of escaping with my child into that beautiful imaginary world, it is time specifically put aside to be present, to be there in the moment. In another way it is a date with my child, she knows that come what will, every evening at the same time, I will be there to read to her, to answer her questions, it is also a time for her to tell me her secrets, it builds trust and consistency.
I love this idea I came across reading about reading:
“At its core, literature is one of the best ways to help kids understand something without necessarily having to experience it for themselves. Reading to your child helps to expose them to all types of subjects and concepts, building our children’s understanding of humanity and the world around them (ReadBrightly.com).”
Other benefits of reading include: increased concentration and discipline, improved imagination and creativity, cultivate a lifelong love of reading, instil an interest in various topics.
One such topic to Mishka is animals. Beatrix Potter is to blame for this. Peter the rabbit is probably one of Mishka’s favourite book characters. We have collected a quite a few chapters in her series. Mishka was so intrigued by this rabbit that we had to get Mish her very own Peter, well Benjamin Rabbit! Beatrix’s animals are part of Mishka’s life now, she sees every little animal as a character in a story. This is exactly what reading and books can bring into a child’s life, stories, about their own environments and their own experiences.
I can only hope that this love for books will be part of Mishka’s life for many years to come. We don’t know what is in store for us technologically. We already have the option to download stories and read it on our devices. But is it the same? As touching a page, smelling a second-hand book, wondering who read it before you, going to the library and searching for your book amongst all the other books, testing and trying your taste for stories, judging a book by its cover?
Mishka asks me to pack her books when she has a sleepover at Granny, even if they never get to read one of those books while visiting, in a way it gives her a sense of security, a reminder of our time together. Granny reads to her, but Granny has her own books, the Fairy books, which also reminds Mishka of Granny when she is at home. It is an association, Fairies and Granny, Beatrix and home.
To think that certain parts of history in certain societies, certain stories and ideas were banned. That knowledge was withheld from these people. We have everything every day, by the touch of a button, we can find the answer to a question. Google it! Do we remember these answers as much as we would looking it up in a library book, or by reading it in some book at some point in our lives? Maybe we do. But I know that people with a great general knowledge either experienced it first hand or read it in a well-researched storybook or non-fiction book.
I want Mishka to hold on tight to this love she already seems to have. It gives me hope that she will always have a sense of curiosity, to ask questions, to understand her world and the people in it better. To develop a broad spectrum of interests and topics, to engage in interesting conversations expanding her knowledge further. We get so caught up in our own little bubble, books let us escape this small world and take us into another realm, where anything is possible.
I will continue to spend these special few minutes out of our busy day with Mish, to read to her and help her read. If it can inspire her to be a better little human being in a world so complex and full of challenges, I will gladly be part of her book world.