Opening Book

Aaah, kids and fairy tales. You can almost hear the groans from all parents, right? Parents are often concerned that their child is only interested in reading about fairy tales, cartoon characters and everything that has to do with anything that is animated. Of course, we are not saying that children should not read fairy tales and cartoon characters. In fact, fairy tales could and should play an important role in your child’s linguistic development. However, we also feel that it is highly imperative that you expose your child to reading from a variety of sources (and we do not mean a variety of fairy tales!), and here are 10 reasons why:

1) Platform for your young child to flourish

Let’s take biographies, for example.

Biographies of the rich and famous are often include inappropriate scandals and other child unfriendly issues. However you can consider reading biographies of the not rich nor famous people who have made their mark on history.

For example, read to your child about Malala Yousafzai, a prominent Pakistani activist for female education and the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Or, you can read to your child a biography about Mahatma Gandhi; about how he fought for India’s freedom without resorting to violence. Other well renowned people can include Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Anne Frank. The list is endless.

The trick is to find an autobiography written in an engaging and even dramatic style.

By reading intense, real life stories to your child, you are actually showing your child that a vast universe of information can be found in the pages of books, something that will hopefully propel him or her towards taking a greater interest in reading.

The more you read about these important figures to your children, the more knowledge they absorb and knowledge is important in all aspects of life. Reading these biographies could actually broaden their horizon and shape their thinking and mindsets as they grow older.

Again, like what we will reiterate over the course of this article, do not limit your child to just reading fairy tales. Expose them to a variety of sources and reading materials, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the rapid improvement of your child’s linguistic development. Which brings us to our next point….

2) Development of your child’s language skills

Here’s a common grouse among parents – that their child’s language skills have not improved to a level that they deem suitable for a certain age. This could be attributed to the rather simplistic language that is commonly used in fairy tale books. It is common knowledge that the vocabulary used in those books are limited and repetitive, which further highlights the importance of exposing your child to reading from a variety of sources.

A fantastic source of reading material would be newspapers. Encourage your child to pick up the daily newspaper in the morning to read. Again, depending on your child’s age, you can either read to your child or together with your child. This would ensure that your child is given exposure to vocabulary used on a range of topics.

This would in turn give an opportunity to your child to see or hear words and phrases which they may not necessarily encounter when reading fairy tale books. One cannot argue against the fact that the more words a child knows, the better. Even more for parents who are of mixed heritage and want their children to be able to speak in more than one language, reading newspapers is a sure-proof method to assist in developing their language proficiency and fluency.

3) Stimulation of your child’s brain

Fiction books can be a useful resource as well. For a start, we recommend fiction books by Roald Dahl. The vocabulary used in Roald Dahl books are descriptive and extensive. You almost feel as if you have been transported into a whole new world!

We suggest reading to your young child books such as “BFG” or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to stimulate their brain activity and give them the platform they need to support and inculcate their early reading skills. Studies have also shown that precise areas of the brain are jolted when a young child is given exposure to reading materials from a youthful age.

4) A variety of books educates your children about a range of topics

Simply put – Exposing your child to a myriad of reading materials, i.e. different types of books on different topics, will provide them with the opportunity to learn a fantastic range of information. This is even more apparent for bilingual kids, as they will then get to explore a subject in different languages.

The subjects could be about the 7 wonders of the world, or about wildlife in the jungle, or even about how a 747-Boeing airplane is being manufactured. If you are the type of parent that likes to instil positive habits in your child at a very young age, there are many informative books on essential life skills such as empathy, respect to the elders, being kind, diversity and many more!

With the wonders of technology nowadays, you may not even need to purchase a hard copy book for your child. E-books are readily available now and can be a perfect reading companion for your child. The possibilities are endless and again, parents should not restrict their children to just the typical fairy tale book. The youth of your child should not be a hindrance for them to explore other fascinating aspects of the world outside a colourful cartoon animation.

5) Development of your child’s imagination and creativity

It can be argued that fairy tale books and cartoon characters can also develop your child’s imagination and creativity. We are not disputing that. However, (as is the recurring theme in this article), we always ask. Why stop there? Why restrict your child to the typical books just because of how old they are?

Like the points that we have shared before. We say. Push the envelope. Expose your child to as many reading materials as possible. Of course, in this current day and age, there will be unsavoury articles on the internet which may be stumbled upon by your child but there are control measures which you can adopt, such as installing software to prevent child unfriendly material from being accidentally viewed.

The beauty of reading from a variety of sources for your children is that you can just sit and marvel at their ever-developing imagination. If we read to them about the harsh realities of children in Africa, we can educate our children on how fortunate they are. Your children can actually be taught to show empathy to other people and may even strive to change the world for a better place. Seeing the genuine exhilaration on your child’s eyes while he or she reads more and more about the world, and witnessing a desire in them to want to effect positive change, would surely be an amazing experience for a parent.

6) Encourages a thirst for knowledge

When you expose your child to a variety of reading materials, it will surely lead to many questions from him or her on the source that they are reading and the context within. It gives you the opportunity to explain to them on what the source is all about and regard it as a learning experience for your child.

Elaborating more on the thoughts shared in Point 1, if you expose your child to prominent figures, it could encourage your child to develop an interest in the different sociopolitical issues of a country different from their own.  At the very least, it may create the interest in your child to simply want to explore a myriad of cultures or languages.

Seeing your child grow and develop to be someone who has this unquenchable thirst for knowledge is a sight to behold. Exposure to variety of reading materials will facilitate that possibility for your child.

7) Form of healthy entertainment for your child

Technology can be a double-edged sword. It is so rampant and pervasive nowadays that it can be pretty arduous to avoid getting caught up in the hysteria of it all. It is understandable that your young child would be more interested in video games, TV shows, smart phones and apps. Cartoon characters and fairy tales have even got into the act of infusing their content into smart phones and apps.

As a parent, it is highly imperative that you emphasize to your child that reading from a variety of sources can also be entertaining. It need not need to be always about fairy tales and cartoon characters. Considering the adverse consequences of prolonged screen time, you would do well to interest your child in a biography, or a daily newspaper. That would certainly be a worthier option. It is best that you instil this in your child as a frequent habit because then, they would most probably choose to read a biography or a daily newspaper over going through the same routine of fairy tale stories again and again when they are bored.

8) Development of empathy in children

When your child reads from a variety of sources, and especially newspapers he or she will slowly learn about what is happening in the world. Elaborating more on the discussions shared in Point 5; if a child is reading about impoverished kids in Africa and how they’re struggling to get even the basic life necessities, they will be able to understand that life in different places in the world, can be very different. In all probability, if your child is not exposed to any reading materials other than fairy tales, they would then most likely not have developed empathy and the presence of mind to sympathize to what other people are suffering.

By exposing them to various sources, they would then be able to comprehend and connect with emotions better.

9) Enhances a child’s concentration

It may come as a surprise to you, but reading from a variety of sources can actually aid in your child’s concentration, and here’s why:

Imagine a child who has been fed the same bedtime story or fairy tale story every night before going to bed. There will come a time when your child would get extremely bored of the story and they will then start to repeatedly turn the pages of the books, or even throw them altogether. This can be attributed to one factor: a child has an extremely short attention span.

Varying the type of reading materials that you share with your child or letting your child read different things everyday would ensure that they would not be easily distracted. Making this a regular habit would give your child the impetus to concentrate and sit still for extended periods of time; and this can only have a positive impact on your child’s learning development when they go to school.

10) Improve Bonding With Your Child

Time spent with your child is always time well spent. Sharing information with your child and encouraging them to read up on a variety of topics can only strengthen the bond you have with them. Like we have said before. We are not suggesting parents to stop reading your child fairy tale stories before their bedtime, we are just asking that you mix it up a bit.

For working parents or those who have hectic lifestyles, simply reading the newspaper to can be an amazing way to enjoy the company of your child, bond and wind down.

With so many benefits that highlight the importance of reading from a variety of sources, prioritizing this in your child’s formative years will act as a springboard to aid them to succeed later in life.

Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.

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