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Wisconsin Parent

Reading: Is it Really that Important?

Jul 31, 2014 03:00AM ● By Brooke McGee
Have you ever skipped a few pages with that bedtime story, just to get it over with? (I know I’m guilty.) Compare that to the times you change the voices of the characters, used emphasis in your voice, and really READ a story to your child. Think of the difference. Or, try it, and notice. According to Annie Murphy Paul of TIME magazine, “deep reading” is decreasing while “skimming” is unfortunately increasing.

In schools today, we see bullying. And a lot of it. But readers are proven without a doubt to be more tolerant of others without being molded by them. If you ask me, that’s a recipe for a great friend, and a reduction in peer pressure.

Psychologist Raymond Mar and Keith Oakley, a professor of cognitive psychology have shown through studies in 2006 and 2009 that children (and adults) who read fiction are capable of the most empathy and more easily form their own opinions and accept others by seeing things from their point of view. Psychologist David Comer Kidd agrees, saying that reading helps us understand the minds of others. Through reading, your child may not always agree with others, but it is proven that they will try and relate to peers more so than others.

Reading a book with your child is like traveling an adventure. They feel their joy, they triumph through their battles, and sometimes, they share along with their losses. It’s intensely different than watching it on a screen, becoming desensitized as we grow older. Reading is comparable to being in someone else’s story, but in your own mind and imagination. Completely different parts of the brain are used to create the imagery we picture. Every child will “see” the story a different way.

The more stories you read to your child (or encourage older readers to read on their own) the wiser they will become. They will have solved mysteries and gain knowledge they never would have thought of. They can travel places, do things and be people they never would have dreamed. And with each story, they carry that memory along with them.

 2010 study, also by Mar, showed that the more stories children read (or have read to them) the children truly are wiser, more adaptable and more understanding for their peers and others. Reading is something that helps mold who your child becomes. The lessons they learn, the journeys they experience, these all incite a passion inside of them. As if those benefits weren’t enough, the vocabulary your child builds will put them at an advantage, not only in school now but as an adult.

Next time you have a chance, rather than turn on the TV, why not encourage a book? Do you read with your child frequently? If so, share with us some of the benefits you’ve seen.