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The first memories I have of reading includes the gentle cadence of my mother’s voice, the cuddles and character impersonations of my father. Over and over again I would choose the same books. Sometimes being read to and other times making up my own versions of the stories.
As I became a parent to 3 wonderful children I started reading to them the day they were born. My wish was to instill in them the same love of reading I had and to create a family with an avid book culture.
1. Language Learning
Picture books introduce the world of words both orally and visually. Reading out loud to our children helps distinguish that speech is made up of different individual sounds and that those sounds have meaning. When I read to a small child I always point out all of the colors, shapes, animals, objects, and numbers. Not only do the pictures help in labeling these patterns but the combination of pictures and stories working together share that stories are told both in pictures and words. Oftentimes when a child starts telling their own stories they’ll draw the picture first and then add words to it later.
As a child is learning their language from birth, picture books help in teaching the sounds of words and patterns of speech. As our children develop and grow, reading to them develops the neuro-pathways in their brains.
2. Develop Motorskills
When reading picture books, the child has the actual task of holding the book. When turning the page, our children are invited to have a direct interaction with the story by moving onto the next part. When reading, it’s important to run your finger’s under the words. This helps teach reading from left to right and how word flow on the page. While we point to the words in a picture book it also helps train the eyes to follow the words. How often to we see a small child holding a book, point to the words as they “pretend” read? Though they are mimicking us, it is an important pattern to develop to be able to read independently later on.
3. Imagination Booster
Are you ready to take a journey? Books open up imagined worlds to our children and let us explore them together. Books also teach how we interact with each other and the world around us, whether imaginary or real. Many times after reading a story I’ve seen my children go into “imagination mode” and re-create in their child-like way the world we visited in our books. Children live in their imaginations first and then come to real situations. The more we can inspire imaginative play the more likely they are to develop problem solving skills for a variety of situations.
4. Developing Close Relationships
More than the love of books, I believe I started reading to my children based on my own wonderful memories of reading with my family growing up. Being in a relaxed, in a familiar place, reading picture books help to associate reading with pleasure. One of the major parts of raising active readers is that reading time is enjoyable. Creating book culture in your home by setting a reading time everyday gives your child or children something to look forward to every day. It’s that special time you share together. During our reading time, all interferences are turned off or put away. We have a special place our family gathers to read every day. Each book read joins the catalog of family experiences and memories. My children often ask me to read the same book over and over again. Though we as parents may get tired of the same story, by reading the same book multiple times helps to aid their memories. These times of snuggling down with a good book are planting the seeds to a love of lifelong reading.
5. Developing Attention Span
When we started to read picture books we picked very short ones and little by little we worked our way up to longer books. By reading for longer periods of time our children developed their attention span were able to follow longer stories. An important thing to remember is that when we first start reading to our children, they are completely dependent on us for the storytelling. Quickly they get the ability to point out objects from the pictures, working their way up to more storytelling details. Pictures books are the journey between dependent reading and independent reading. As we increase our reading time, we challenge them to grow into independent readers.
Though there are a myriad of great reasons to read picture books to your children, the most important of them all is to instill a love of reading. I can’t imagine a world without picture books can you?