Giving books to kids during this gift-giving season is encouraged by researchers who tell us that when children read, it not only hones their reading skills, but also helps children understand, size up, and empathize with other people, and supports creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. You can’t miss if you choose books for the children on your shopping list.
Giving a Child a New Book Encourages Reading
- If your child is a good reader, a new book will be a very welcome gift. If your child is a slow or poor reader, the gift of a book is an encouragement to keep trying. Offer to help the reader or to read with him and make the reading experience a more fun activity.
- If you want a new book to be welcomed by a poor reader, aim for one that is less difficult to read than the books he reads at school, but with a story that will interest him. For example, if you are buying for a ten-year-old-girl who struggles with reading in grade five, choose one written at the grade four level, but make sure the story is appropriate for someone older than nine.
- If the child is female, she won’t mind if the main character is male but, if the child is male, he won’t want the main character to be female. To be safe, it is best to have both sexes represented as key characters in the story and they should be the same age or older than the readers.
Reading Engages Children More Than TV Watching
- Daily Reading Enhances Neural Activity – Neuroscientists at Emory University report enhanced neural activity in people who read regularly. Reading triggers more activity in the brain than TV watching, and links closely to the development of intelligence. In short, reading “jogs” the brain in a way that TV watching can’t.
- Reading Achieves Greater Intensity of Connections – Most TV shows last an hour and watching is a passive occupation; reading, however, is an active pastime, and reading a book may take several hours over a number of days. Studies show that books and the time spent reading them causes children to respond more to the characters and the situations than those they observe in a TV program. This response, in turn, encourages the development of empathy for people and their problems.
- Fiction Reading Helps Develop An Understanding of People and Motives – Fiction involves children in analyzing characters and motivations, which leads to more awareness of people and their motivations in real life, and helps them size-up and understand people and social situations better.
Reading Mysteries Helps Develop Problem-Solving Abilities
The link between reading mysteries and developing problem-solving strategies has been well established. The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute includes detective fiction in its curriculum content in order to encourage teachers to introduce their students to mystery stories and capitalize on this educational feature of reading “whodunits.” When in doubt, choose mysteries for children.
Although reading any suitable book has value for a child, you should choose a book that will interest him and make reading fun so that he will continue to read and become a better reader. If you give books to kids this coming holiday season, you’ll be providing the best and most useful gifts of all.
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