One thing that has always impressed me about my wife is the amount of time that she spends working with our kids. She literally spends hours every day on things that range from absolutely necessary (we home school and they have to learn) to unnecessary but very admirable (playing with Syd’s dolls). I don’t think I have hidden the fact that I think my wife is absolutely amazing and any of you who know here will definitely agree with me on this point.
One of the things that I think is amazing is how much reading they do together. Sometimes, I will sit down and read a book or two with Caleb but I very quickly lose interest and move on. Elisa will read through dozens of books with him. If you are a mother who likes to read to your children, I’m sure you can relate.
I understand the value of books. I love them myself and am currently attempting to digest Great Expectations in the evenings. I also understand the value of raising my children to love books. Studies have shown that children benefit tremendously from being read to by their parents. Catherine Pearson, in an article she wrote for the Huffington Post, points out that, “Now, for the first time, researchers have hard evidence that doing so activates the parts of preschoolers’ brains that help with mental imagery and understanding narrative — both of which are key for the development of language and literacy.”
She also shared the following quote from Dr. Thomas DeWitt, director of the division of general and community pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“There have been a good number of studies that have [found] empirical evidence that reading to kids does have an impact on things such as literacy and oral language readiness.”
I don’t think any of this information would surprise anyone as this seems to be common knowledge and logical. However, it is always good to see the studies behind the statements.
Yesterday, I was reading an article by Perri Klass that appeared in the New York Times that also lent credibility to the idea of reading to our kids. However, they went even further to distinguish between books and digital media. They’re suggestion is that we should still be keeping a bookshelf full of books in our homes and reading to our kids from them regularly.
In the article, Klass states that, “In a 2014 review of studies on electronic storybooks, researchers outlined some of the ways that such stories could help young children learn, and some of the ways that they could hurt. They pointed out that especially for children with language delays, certain features of electronic books that reinforce the connection between image and word (for example, animated pictures) may help children integrate information, but that distracting features and games may cause “cognitive overload,” which gets in the way of learning. And they worried, of course, that screen time might displace parent-child time.”
So, here’s the bottom line.
My son loves to play video games. Is that wrong. Not necessarily but we have to find time to engage with literature. In a different situation, my daughter loves to sit and watch youtube videos with me that are educational. That should be good right? Well, according to research, it still isn’t as good as picking up a book.
If you have a book collection at your home, get into it. Exhaust it. Once your done with those books, head on down to the library. There are so many resources down there. Take advantage of it, your kids will love you for it.