Posted Apr 16, 2023
The last few years have taken a toll on all of us. The physical and mental effects of the pandemic are still being felt. Some of its most vulnerable victims are children. Language development, reading skills, school achievement, social, emotional, and mental well-being have all suffered. It is estimated that up to 1 in 6 children are dealing with mental health issues. Nation-wide, educators, politicians, and parents are debating solutions to the deficits our kids are experiencing.
What if there was way to nurture your children’s cognitive development, mental and emotional health, and boost their learning abilities and school success? What if it was free, easy, fun, and took only a few minutes a day? Good News! There is – BOOK SOME TIME WITH YOUR KIDS.
An abundance of research proves that sharing books with children has a positive and profound effect on their cognitive, social, emotional and mental well-being. A minimum of 15 minutes of book time per day is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Those fifteen minutes make a huge difference. Unfortunately, less than half of parents share books with their children on a regular basis. Only about one fourth of parents share books with their infants. Those numbers are even lower for parents dealing with adverse socio-economic conditions.
Early Literacy specialist Keisha Siriboe describes reading aloud with children as the activity that provides the highest return on investment. It “is the best bang for your buck.” Sharing books with the children in your life -
Provides a special bonding time between adult and child. It is a time of physical closeness, undivided attention, and sharing thoughts and feelings. Your child’s reactions to the books you share gives you another glimpse into how they see the world.
Promotes language development and builds vocabulary. There is a strong link between the number of words a young child is exposed to and brain development, learning success, and emotional development. Picture books contain approximately 50% more unique words than children hear in daily conversations. One book a day exposes children to more than 218,000 words per year.
Enhances early literacy skills, building the foundation for independent reading and success in school. Exposure to books and how they work, print, story structure, sounds of language and new vocabulary gets your child “ready to read” on their own. Children who struggle with reading in first grade are 90% more likely to be poor readers in fourth grade.
Helps improve behavior. Studies show children who are read to have greater problem-solving skills, longer attention spans, better listening skills, less aggressive behavior and more self-control than children who aren’t read to on a regular basis. Children who are exposed to picture books also have stronger observational skills.
Nurtures mental and emotional health. Children who are read to on a regular basis score higher on mental health assessments. One study found children who are engaged with books and literacy are three times more likely to have higher mental health scores than children who don’t have those book experiences. Another study found the positive effect of book experiences on mental health was even stronger for boys than for girls
The vocabulary knowledge that strengthens learning abilities also develops social and emotional skills. Children who are able to name their emotions and verbalize their feelings are more able to manage emotions and behavior. Children who are read to regularly exhibit greater self-awareness, empathy, tolerance, and resilience. Australian researchers found that reading aloud with children who were experiencing neglect and trauma tripled their resilience. Children who share books with caring adults report feeling less anxious, happier and more secure than children who don’t have that experience.
Improves adults’ mental health. Children aren’t the only ones who benefit from book time. After sharing books with children, adults report feeling more relaxed, less stressed, and more positive than they were before “book time.”
When it comes to sharing books with children, there is no such thing at too young or too old. Start when they are infants or before. Babies who are read to before birth are born recognizing the sounds and rhythms of familiar stories. Don’t stop sharing books when children start reading on their own. A Reading Report survey found 60% of 9 – 11 year olds where no longer being read to, but 34% of those kids wished they still had book time with their parents. As children get older, book time may include reading to each other, reading the same book at the same time, or listening to audio books together.
Whatever their ages, we encourage anyone with children in their lives to BOOK SOME TIME WITH YOUR KIDS. Help us share the benefits of book time with children by joining our campaign. Share photos of you and the children in your life reading together with us. Email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tag us @ShorewoodLib and use the hashtag #BookSomeTimeWithYourKids on social media.
More information on sharing books with children