Reading to a child communicates love and acceptance to a child primarily in two ways: firstly, through physical touch and, secondly through sharing an experience that fosters emotional closeness.
We’ve written before in this blog about just how important love is to learning – it is the ‘thing’ that makes all learning stick. The beauty of reading with your child is that it is about more than just pictures and words on a page – it is about LOVE.
Imagine a scene where a dad is reading to his son. The son is sitting on his father’s lap, enveloped in his arms, and both of them are engrossed in the book in front of them. Dad is reading each word with emphasis, his tone and inflection changing with his facial expressions mimicking what he’s reading. He suddenly roars (like a lion…) and his son laughs and snuggles even closer to his dad… Can you see it? Can you see what we’re trying to describe?
As parents, we can sometimes see reading as a chore… But for a child, reading is about love. It is a time when his mom or dad physically and emotionally ‘comes down’ to his level. There is a closeness. He comes to anticipate the funny monkey sounds or the knock-knock-knocking that are coming on the next page… his excitement and joy are barely contained…
Reading fosters love. It is about sharing, one-on-one with your child; about opening up a world of fairy tales, dinosaurs, farm animals or whatever it is… It is about taking your child’s hand and guiding him through a door into a world where he can become and be given anything his heart desires…
Teaching your child to associate love and closeness with reading is possibly the best foundation you may ever lay for your child in terms of academics, social skills and increasing language and therefore intellectual development. This is because the pleasant memories create in a child a hunger for more… But more than that, reading gives you an opportunity to be close, to share the moment, to laugh together and LOVE together.
Words: Loren Stow with Lizette van Huyssteen