Books are often seen as ‘old fashioned’ and parents are tempted to replace them with seemingly more modern stimulation, such as television, DVDs, video games, computers, and battery-operated toys with moving parts and flashing lights…
The difference between reading and these ‘new and improved’ types of stimulation, is that reading (and story-telling) will always be the number one activity that requires of a child to actively use his brain to make it fun. For reading to make sense and be enjoyable, your child needs to use various parts of his brain to process the activity, as opposed to other more ‘modern’ stimulation, where a lot less is asked of his brain.
It is important to understand that reading is a really high-functioning skill and no other activity, definitely not watching television, not educational games, not flash cards, not even something as precious as talking to your child or singing songs till the cows come home… nothing stimulates phonetic and phonological awareness (which is absolutely crucial for reading readiness) quite as much as reading age-appropriate children’s books with loads of rhyme and repetition, again and again. Therefore, reading to a child not only fosters a love for reading, it actually wires a child’s brain to be able to learn to read later on.
With this said, we hope that the next time you look at a children’s book, you stop for a second and see it for what it is. It is a magical key to demonstrating your love for your child and creating a safe and predictable place for him in our fast-paced world that can at times be so scary for little souls… And to top it off, it’s the best foundation for future reading abilities with all the good things that go along with that!
A book really is more than just the sum total of its pages and colourful pictures – it is a gift; for you, for your child and for the future.
Words: Loren Stow with Lizette van Huyssteen.