Read to your children until they won't let you. Let's look at three main benefits for reading to children that can pay off for their life time, and yours. At the end of this article, I will make a suggestion about how you can continue to engage with your older children over books.
Physical Closeness: Reading to children provides opportunities to be physically close. Most children enjoy the warmth of the physically close parent or caregiver, as they cuddle in to hear a story. This cuddle effect can be enjoyed during a 'winding down' time, or before bed. By carefully choosing books, this may even help prepare children to enjoy some good dreams while they sleep. Children benefit by feeling valued, loved and nurtured. The parent benefits by enjoying a little 'quiet time' now, and the potential for good attachment in later adult life.
Emotional Closeness: Reading to children offers numerous opportunities to get to know "the child inside." During and after reading, a child can be asked about feelings and thoughts about issues brought up in the book. Ask, "What did you feel when_______?" Or ask "What do you think ______could do?" Be patient and gently validate your child's attempts to express his/her inner feelings and thoughts. It takes time to evolve into mature expressions of those. Your gentle validation can help your child feel heard, understood and cared for. With a light touch the parent/caregiver may also develop a clearer picture about the child's feelings regarding self and others and help build the child's self-esteem.
Intellectual Development: I saved this one for last, because it is often the first benefit we seek when reading to children. However, it is true that when adults read to children who are old enough to read for themselves, we can choose books above the children's current reading level. This allows for more social, intellectual and moral stimulation and development, than possible if the child read alone. Plus it allows parents to continue to influence their children's exposure to preferred content a while longer. For example, I read one chapter of A Wrinkle In Time, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, and others before bedtime, to my two children when they were already reading on their own. We all enjoyed that time together.
What if your older child simply won't let you read to him/her? Here's how you continue to influence your child's intellectual, emotional, social and moral development and to engage in a mutual interaction over books?
Choose some books that you have read and which you want the child (usually a tween or teenager) to read. Select one and tell them if they read the book, and write up a book review and discuss the book with you, within a specified length of time, you will reward them in some way that you agreed upon. (For this investment, I may even suggest financial rewards.) The child benefits because you can expose him/her to as wide an array of information as you would like: literature, social issues, biographies, geographical issues, political, religious, moral, ethical questions and more. This benefits you both as your child continues to reveal more about him/herself to you and that helps develop strong bonds between you both as you discuss these works.
Enjoy Years of Happy Times Reading Together!
Susie E. Caron (copyright 2013)
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!