“Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.”
This slightly odd (yet undeniably true) quote comes from Lemony Snicket, author of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events.’ When I was a child it was one of my favourite book series. Over the last few years, it was turned into a three season Netflix series that stays true to the books and stars the brilliantly talented Neil Patrick Harris.
So why, the child in me asks, would anyone read a 13-book series when they could simply watch Netflix for a few hours? And, given the amount of television shows and movies we all consume, that may be a difficult question to answer, but there is no shortage of reasons to read a book.
Reading helps with mental stimulation and has been shown to slow the progress of cognitive degeneration (probably not a concern for your 5 year old, but not a bad reason to start them young), it can help them relax and stay calm, can increase their knowledge and help their ability to learn. It will improve a child (and adults) vocabulary, analytical skills, focus and concentration.
Most importantly though, it’s fun.
Reading, as Lemony points out, is a form of escape. At a time when the world around us feels like doom and gloom, reading gives kids a chance to escape to a whole other world, whichever world they chose. There are an infinite number of books to read each with a new character to meet, a new place to explore and a new adventure to be had.
But … the TV is right there and looking at a screen is far more appealing to a young brain than reading a book. So how can you get them reading? Here’s 5 tips that might help.
But… the TV is right there and looking at a screen is far more appealing to a young brain than reading a book. So how can you get them reading? Here’s 5 tips that might help.
Audio books and read-a-longs.
Listening to an audio book and reading along can help your child immerse themselves in the story and realise how much fun a book can be. Reading along can also help your child improve their own reading. Soon enough they’ll be moving too fast for the audio books to keep up and they’ll be flying through Harry Potter faster than Harry himself on his Firebolt.
Create a reading space.
A small room, big bookcases, comfy chairs and not a screen in sight. Books ready to become their favourite sitting in easy reach, nice lighting enticing a wild imagination. If you have space for a little room like this, it won’t be long before it’s your kids’ favourite room in the house.
Read the book, then watch the movie.
The movie is best watched after the book. When all the intricacies of the story can be fully appreciated and watching a character you’ve grown to know so well come to life brings a joy they’ll experience well into adulthood.
A library can be a terribly exciting place. Visit your local library and read a book with a young child, if you can make the experience fun they’ll remember that fun for a long time.
You read too.
Find a book you like and try to read at the same time they do. Kids follow the examples adults set for them. If a child sees you enjoying a book, they’ll want to do it to. Studies have shown that children, young boys especially, do a lot better when there is an adult reading in the room. If you’ve lost your love of reading (or maybe you never had one) this will help you too. The benefits of reading will spread through the whole family.