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Today's Family Magazine

Why it’s important for young children to get excited about reading

Giving a book as a gift is always a good choice to help young readers get excited about reading. There are many hidden benefits to introducing books at an early age and fostering a love of reading throughout their childhood. Dr. Elizabeth Adams, co-founder and chief experience officer of Ello, (the first AI reading coach that works with real books to support readers with evidence-based instruction and motivation) shares some key reasons why giving children books as holiday gifts and encouraging a love for reading at a young age is important:

Reading supports early literacy.  Reading for pleasure is at its lowest among children today. Fourteen percent of students say they read for fun daily, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report recently published, down 3 percentage points from 2020 and 13 since 2012.  The report shows 31 percent of students never or hardly ever read for fun. Reading for pleasure has many other benefits and can lead to better writing, math and vocabulary skills.  As adults, we can make reading more enjoyable for children by selecting books based on their personal interests and hobbies, rather than our own.  For example, rather than pushing a book we liked as a child, we should be finding age-appropriate books that match subjects they are excited about.

Reading expands a child’s imagination.  It helps them develop empathy by reading stories about others.  Reading books about fiction and history has never been more important.  Research suggests that fictional books may effectively be empathy-building tools, offering us the closest we can get to first-hand knowledge of someone else’s experience.  In other words, you’re not just giving a book, you’re giving your kids access to knowledge and helping them with their storytelling skills.  Not only can books entertain children but can also help them grow into a better person or teach a valuable lesson.

Improves mental health.  Children who read for pleasure 12 hours per week perform better on cognitive tests and have better mental health, according to a recently published study in Psychological Medicine. Reading also helps reduce stress and relaxes your body and mind.

Explore new ways to enjoy reading.  Today a child can experience reading in a variety of creative ways such as via a Kindle and various reading apps.  Also, comic books and picture books can offer many benefits to young readers through imagery and can help build reader confidence.  You can also help kids expand their reading by visiting the library regularly, joining a book club for kids and making it a social activity or by creating a book nook in your home.  Giving a book as a present also fits perfectly into the popular gift-giving strategy for kids called Want, Need, Wear, Read.  The idea is that you only give four gifts to each child:  a gift they want, something they need, an item to wear, and something to read.