Specially written for CDM.org
By: Ruthie Jianna
In this highly digital world, reading has stopped becoming a pastime for many children. In fact, recent surveys on students in elementary and middle school show a rapid drop in those who read for fun. Among elementary students, only 42% say they read for pleasure. Meanwhile, among middle schoolers, only 17% say the same. Conversely, the percentage of kids who say they read for fun sometimes or never tripled.
This is a troubling report because a love of reading is not just a hobby but an advantage. Numerous studies over the years have verified that being a bookworm truly is all that it’s cracked up to be. But just what are the benefits that children can get out of reading? And how can you teach this love of reading to a generation that’s increasingly falling out of love with books? Read on to find out.
The Benefits of Reading Among Children:
Reading can encourage curiosity
First, reading invites children into various worlds and lets them experience cognitive stimulation. This then encourages the mind to be more curious and seek out more knowledge. This is why curiosity is regarded among the best components behind workplace innovation too. Specifically, curiosity is credited with gaining joy from learning, taking steps to reduce knowledge gaps, and having an openness to different perspectives. While reading can boost curiosity at any age, doing so at a young age will be more fruitful as this is when kids pick up good habits.
Reading improves mental and emotional health
Second, reading can help improve well-being. Generally, the health benefits of reading include better self-esteem, happiness, and empathy. According to studies, those who read frequently are more likely to better manage stress, social relationships, and self-worth. Since the parts of the brain that are responsible for these traits also mature over time, planting the seeds behind emotional and mental wellness via reading in early childhood allows your child more time to develop these aspects.
Reading teaches critical life skills
Lastly, reading sets up skills that will be beneficial at every age. According to reports, children who read recreationally can pick up vocabulary, spelling, and mathematical skills faster than those who don’t. In adulthood, an early love for reading will give them a competitive advantage in some of the most promising content careers, such as being an author or writer. Considered some of today’s most relevant jobs, writers and authors can anticipate up to 10,000 new opportunities to regularly arise annually for the next several years. Understandably, to join this workforce, one must have a deep understanding of language and writing. With a background in reading, your children will be better able to understand and produce content that is valuable to the field later on.
How To Teach Children To Love Reading:
Make books accessible
Even in schools where books should be plentiful, research on national book access states that 2.5 million children are enrolled in schools without libraries. This lack of reading materials makes reading seem foreign or inconvenient. To remedy this, make sure you have a few reading options at home. This way, children will see books as familiar and unintimidating resources that they can navigate and enjoy.
Frame reading positively
According to interviews with librarians and students, as a child grows older, schoolwork becomes more intertwined with reading. Naturally, this makes children want to avoid reading as a whole. As such, it’s important to frame reading as a decompressing activity rather than work. You can do this by underscoring that your kids are not forced to read, but if they do read, they can choose a piece they actually enjoy. Over time, this will put reading in a more positive light.
Try reading together
Reading together cements the act as a meaningful activity that holds many positive associations. This is why doctors recommend that parents start reading with their children as early as infancy. As an added bonus, reading together makes it a shared experience that helps children form important social bonds. Depending on how old your child is, you can either take turns reading aloud or you can simply enjoy each other’s company with your own books.
An activity that keeps on giving, reading is an activity that can lay the foundations of a successful life. While some children will be naturally more inclined to read than others, by doing your part to make reading fun, you’re empowering your kids with a passion that will serve them well for years.