Unleashing the Transformative Power of Reading for Children

The new year is here and so are the promises of physical change through new gym memberships and before and after photos that inspire hope in the hungriest of hearts for some positive transformation. The kind of transformation that can elevate the quality of your life! Now imagine that same promise of transformation and elevation but for your mind.

Unlike physical transformation that is continued hard work, what if there was a baseline habit you can cultivate that provides you with transformative results for your lifetime? That’s how we view the habit of reading. Creating this habit has transformative powers that can affect the quality of your life and especially the life of your children for years to come. So, what kind of transformation can Reading provide? Let’s look at some research to break it down.

Reading is an active experience that involves the interactive process between the text and the reader. According to a paper at Western Michigan University (Gogan, 2017) the experience of reading can be transformative in a few different ways. Here are 3 that we think are most relevant to development in a child.

Enhancing self perception

First, Reading can enhance the self-perception of the reader. As they grow up, children are constantly answering the question – Who am I? Gaining a sense of self is pertinent to their confidence and their growing ability to show up as their authentic selves. Reading can encourage this. When interacting with the text, story, images, the reader starts to identify what feels familiar, what feels alien, what feels scary, or what can bring a smile to their face. A book about a character who talks a lot will be highly humorous, relational and familiar to a child who is as talkative – to one who isn’t, they almost immediately identify that that character isn’t like them. They may even find them annoying. Through all this they are self-identifying!

Creating Meaning and fostering lifelong learning

Reading can also help create meaning. But not just meaning, it transforms meaning-making into pluralism – where more than one perspective can co-exist. Reading alongside others can help kids understand that there’s more than one way to interpret a text – people’s personalities, contexts, and self-perception, all have an influence on how a text is interpreted. Children tend to have black and white thinking – interpreting everything through their limited context. Reading with other’s can help them hold space for more than one interpretation which in the long run will help their emotional regulation when things don’t look exactly as they expect them to.

Reading also exposes a child to ways of life that are unfamiliar to them thus expanding and transforming their worldview. Kids are narrow minded. It’s not their fault! They don’t know much of the world yet. Give them a head start on sociability and being able to hold space for whomever they might encounter in life. Expose them to stories and characters that are diverse – historically, culturally, socioeconomically, and so on, and increase their worldview at a younger age. It will be for the better in the long run!

Now you might say, why should we bother with any of this? After all, there is a possibility that kids could be well-adjusted without books – right? I mean, look at Tarzan. He came out alright after all? Didn’t he? Didn’t he?

Again, reading has the transformative power to shape young minds and broaden horizons. It has been shown to improve language skills, foster empathy and understanding, and stimulate the imagination. Children who read regularly are also more likely to achieve academic success and have a lifelong love of learning.

One study found that children who were read to at home had a higher reading comprehension and were more likely to read on their own compared to their peers who were not read to at home. In addition, reading to children can strengthen the parent-child bond and provide a sense of security and comfort.

There are numerous books available that can help young readers develop their skills and explore new worlds. Some recommendations for children include:

  • “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein: This classic story teaches the value of giving and the importance of relationships.
  • “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle: This colorful and interactive book follows the journey of a caterpillar as it grows and transforms into a beautiful butterfly.
  • “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak: This imaginative tale allows children to explore their emotions and creativity as they join Max on his adventures with the wild things.
  • “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss: This whimsical story teaches children about problem-solving and the importance of responsibility.
  • “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown: This soothing bedtime story is a favorite among children and parents alike.

Children with a consistent habit of reading will grow up to have good Self-Perception, better Emotional Regulation, and a greater Worldview – all of which are precursors to a better quality of life. Reading is tantamount to nearly everything they will encounter as they grow – schooling, reading directions, social cues as they start making friends, college education, job interviews, and critical thinking for life in general. Mental agility through reading can bring a promise of transformation and better quality of life that we mentioned earlier. Just imagine, by reading a thoughtful combination of playful, adventurous, diverse, and educational books from the start, it can have great long term positive effects on the quality of life of our children. Enrolling your kids in a children’s book club or a children’s books of the month club can give you a leg up on their reading habit. Having books that are curated to their reading needs that arrive at your doorstep each month takes most of the work out of it for you. All you have to do is snuggle up with your little one and enjoy reading time – and let the transformation begin, on page at a time!

Reading has the power to transform children’s lives in numerous ways. It improves language skills, fosters empathy and understanding, and stimulates the imagination. By providing children with access to a wide range of books, we can help them grow into lifelong learners and responsible global citizens.

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