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How Reading With Your Child Develops Memory, Creativity & Security

How Reading With Your Child Develops Memory, Creativity & Security

A fabulous guest post by ‘Short Story Lady’ on why reading with your child is so important.  She’s a professional storyteller and author based in Trafford, Greater Manchester.

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At the end of a long day, it’s tempting to skip the bedtime story and rush the kids into bed so you can get some down time. After all, they pretty much know the story by heart, why read it again?

Well, I’ll tell you why: Stories matter more than you know! That book that’s falling apart at the spine from being read so much is a treasure. The comforting rhythm of familiar words might seem repetitive to adult ears, but is a vital step in early pre-reading.

 

Rhyme and repetition

Books with rhyming stanzas and repeated phrases help children predict which words are coming next. This helps reinforce the link between letter shapes and the sounds they make. The child hears the sounds they expect to hear, and sees the text on the page, time after time. They watch you as you read, and see how your mouth moves, and soon they’re joining in with words and phrases. Soon enough, they have the whole book down pat, and admonish you for substituting words or skipping pages. This, though frustrating for you, shows a remarkable feat of memory. You have the text to work from, but your child has memorised the sounds of the story, in perfect order, from start to finish.

 

Illustrations

In children’s books, especially those aimed at young children, the text is only part of the story. A picture tells a thousand words, and nowhere is this more true than in children’s fiction. When your child interrogates you about minute details of the illustrations, they’re making the most of the book in front of them. Why is she smiling? What will happen if that ball bounces and hits the window? What made the bear sad? All important questions, unanswered by the text, and helpful in building a child’s view of the world. You don’t need to give definitive answers to these questions. Ask the child to look through the book to see if another illustration answers their question, or ask them if they have any ideas. These discussions help the child build a back story for characters, making sense of the way different characters react to situations and bringing them to life in their imaginations.

 

Older children

The time will come, and sooner than you think, that your child will be reading independently. It’s tempting to leave them at this stage to read their own stories and step away. Avoid the temptation, storytime is still extremely beneficial as children move through primary school. Together, you can tackle chapter books, and longer books which the child would struggle with alone. You can explore language and social dilemmas together through the perspective of fictional characters, and build whole imaginary worlds! Older children love to hear you read long stories, chapter by chapter, night by night, building the suspense and the narrative in a way solitary reading cannot.

 

Social benefits of story time

Bedtime stories are only partly about the book and the text therein. They’re about time spent together, focused on the child, enjoying each other’s presence and physical closeness. They help the child wind down, relaxing the body and mind in preparation for sleep, in a way that screen time just can’t substitute. An audiobook doesn’t know why Goldilocks took the porridge, or why she slept in a bear’s bed instead of her own (you don’t either, but at least you’d consider the questions!); a TV programme won’t change a character’s voice to make it sound more squidgy. A tablet can’t cuddle the way you do, or tickle their nose with the turn of each page.

Bedtime stories are more than words read from a page, they are precious time, an investment in the intellectual, emotional and social futures of children. Whatever else you skimp on, don’t ditch the bedtime stories!

 

Biography
Short Story Lady is a storyteller and author based in Trafford, Greater Manchester. She offers a range of storytelling workshops in schools, libraries and at various events. She also offers a range of party packages for children of all ages.
She has written several books for both adults and children, which are available on Amazon, Smashwords and direct through her website.
For more information about Short Story Lady’s work, or to book her for an event, visit her website, follow her on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.


Short Story Lady Website | Facebook | Twitter Author of “The Strangeling’s Tale”, “Drabble Folk and Fairy Tales” and “Memoirs of a Madcap Cyclist”, talented Wordsmith and member of the Society for Storytelling. Visit my site to discover more about my storytelling services or to buy my books in paperback or eBook format.

You may also like to see other posts in Parenting including:

Reading Recommendations From A 9 Year Old & a 7 Year Old
For Kids Who Hate Maths

To download my eBook on Encouraging Children To Love Reading (FREE):

FREE eBook with ways to encourage children to enter the world of 'bookwormery' and enjoy curling up with a good book.

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Emily x

 

15 comments

  • Su
    July 15, 2015 AT 11:18 PM

    Great post! In our house, story time before bed is a must! My son loves books even though he can’t read them yet, but we go to library at least once a week for story time. We even made some new friends while we are at it! 🙂 #brillblogposts

    • International Elf Service
      July 16, 2015 AT 8:54 AM

      That sounds so lovely and he’ll soon be reading before you know it. It’s so intriguing watching them learn!

  • HonestMum
    July 12, 2015 AT 11:38 PM

    We are all total bookworms here and my sons adore reading, we read to them from babies and my folks come from a long line of teachers, my mum used to be a uni lecturer before they opened restaurants. Love the sound of a book based party too. Thanks for linking up to #brillianblogposts x

    • International Elf Service
      July 13, 2015 AT 10:02 PM

      You have a very talented family! We had no TV as a kid so my head was permanently buried in books. I so love it when I hear that other children love them too. Thank you so much for hosting as always.

  • Heledd - Running in Lavender
    July 9, 2015 AT 10:26 PM

    Great post!! And I couldn’t agree more with all these points. My daughters are now 5 and 2 and we’ve read to them both every night from the age of six months. To be honest the first few months were more for myself and my husband because we enjoyed the ritual. Now we all enjoy this special time together and my oldest is starting to read to us, which is lovely. Thank you of linking up to #SundayStars xx

    • International Elf Service
      July 10, 2015 AT 9:20 PM

      oh I know, it’s so special isn’t it? Our 8 year old is definitely not interested in us reading to her, which makes me want to devise a way to spike her interest!

  • Tanya Leary
    July 8, 2015 AT 11:18 PM

    Couldn’t agree with this more- I absolutely love reading with our babies. It is such a special tine together, you can’t read and do anything else!
    I love catching glimpses of the girls now ‘pretending’ to read the stories themselves!

    • International Elf Service
      July 8, 2015 AT 11:21 PM

      Oh that’s so amazing! Are they using nonsense words and everything?? I love it when they do that 🙂

  • al ferguson
    July 8, 2015 AT 1:56 PM

    Ted and I read together every day so I love a good reading post 🙂 Thanks for sharing it 🙂 #bigfatlinky

    • International Elf Service
      July 8, 2015 AT 2:58 PM

      Thanks Al and I’m pleased to hear that Ted is developing a strong love of reading 🙂

  • Ten (more) gender-neutral gifts to buy a three year old | Live Oxfordshire
    July 8, 2015 AT 9:50 AM

    […] act as a replacement for a lovely bedtime story read by a loving caregiver (in fact, I recommend this article on bedtime stories which explains why they’re such a positive addition to a child’s […]

  • Emma's Mamma
    July 6, 2015 AT 11:02 AM

    Great post! My husband and I both love reading and so far my toddler loves books. Hoping she’ll keep it up! #sundaystars

    • International Elf Service
      July 6, 2015 AT 8:11 PM

      I’m a total book fiend – we had no TV so I think that’s why I became an extra strong book worm. I love that your girl loves books!

  • Mama, My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
    July 6, 2015 AT 2:18 AM

    Definitely agree with this. My whole family loves to read. It is a love we’ve been sharing with my tot since he was just a few weeks old and one we hope to share for many years to come.

    • International Elf Service
      July 6, 2015 AT 8:08 PM

      That’s so good – I’m going to have to book them in for individual reads I think – age differences and likes/dislikes is making group reading hard AND they refuse to find my silly voices anything other than ’embarrassing’.

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