I think the reasons why it's important for kids to read far outweigh the reasons why maybe it doesn't matter too much. I also think it’s more important that we're encouraging our children to read than ever before - in the age of video games, Facebook and smartphones, it seems less and less likely that they'll want to go and pick up a book. However, there are so many reasons why it's important for kids to read - my childhood wouldn't have been the same without them!
The positive effect reading can have on your vocabulary is one of the biggest reasons why it's important for kids to read. This might be because I hate slang, but reading really does extend your vocabulary. Do we want the next generations happily tootling along, thinking ‘innit’ is a legitimate phrase? No, no we don’t. Reading opens up a whole new world of words for kids, and if they don't know the meaning of something, looking it up is going to seem a lot more important if they want to know how it fits into the story.
On the same note - and I'm aware I probably sound scary old right now - the fact that I can write, and spell, with some small level of finesse isn't really down to my schooling, but to what I used to read. Schools don't seem to place enough emphasis on spelling and the other basics nowadays - teachers didn't teach me to write, books did.
Answer this honestly: would you rather your child learnt about life, love, sadness, hurt and death from the sensationalist TV programmes we tend to have on our screens, where everyone looks pretty when they cry and bounces back by the next episode? Or would you rather they read about it in Shakespeare, Austen, Tolstoy, Anais Nin? What option would you choose?
The amazing thing about books is that each one creates an entirely new world for you, whether that's in terms of the situation being new, but the reality the same, or an actual whole new fantastical world, where dragons exist and magic is real. The most wonderful thing a child has is their imagination, and their ability to believe. Books enable that - the rest they do themselves.
In the same vein, do you remember spending absolute hours as a kid playing with nothing but a bed sheet and a stick? Because I do - with those two things, I made the fort from my stories, I was the tribal chief, I was the old grandmother, I was the bird. No need for all the latest toys here! Books bring simplicity.
Probably my favourite place as a kid was the library. Yeah, I was a geeky kid who got picked on at school. But the library, with the softly spoken, kind people and the rows and rows of brightly illustrated books, was my best, and longest lasting, refuge.
What are they doing when they could be reading? Watching trash TV? Straining their eyes on a computer? There's time enough for both of those things, and I don't know any kids who don't do them - but we all need some balance: make some reading time, too.
I know we're all different, and not everyone likes to read. However, I honestly believe that there's something out there for everyone. Keep reading until you find what's for you - and have fun along the way! What do you like to read?
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