Summer is here for many of us, and just around the corner for the rest. With it comes the inevitable cries of boredom once the initial novelty of pools, no school and lazy summer days wears off–that is unless you’re armed with some great and never-ending entertainment. If it isn’t already there, add reading to your arsenal of summer activities – it’s an activity kids can enjoy, and you as a parent can feel good about.
The number of studies examining the value of reading to children from a young age is impressive, and their findings even more so. For example, one study found that between infancy and preschool, for every year you read to your child you add ~$50,000 a year to their average lifetime earnings. Other research shows that reading aloud to young children positively impacts all facets of their education, and a survey of children found that many “cited reading aloud as a special bonding time with their parents”. Reading to kids brings future wealth, future educational success, but perhaps most importantly, immediate bonding.
But it not just scientific research and studies that point us in the direction of reading as an ideal activity for kids, and their parents. The anecdotal evidence is there too, and perhaps even stronger for many of us than the facts and numbers.
In the 1950s, there was a young, single mother raising her two sons in the ghettos of Detroit. Her boys were both struggling in school, and she herself was gone much of the time, stretched thin from working multiple jobs to make ends meet. One day, while cleaning the house of a wealthy client, she realized something that many of the houses she cleaned had in common:
THEY ALL HAD LIBRARIES.
When she came home from work that night, she turned the TV off, and told her boys that from that point forward they could only watch 3 TV shows per week, and instead they should go to the library. Each week they were responsible to read 2 books and write a book report about each of them for her to read. They went–grudgingly at first–but they went. Both of their grades improved. But it didn’t stop there. The youngest son, Ben, attended Yale University, and then Johns Hopkins where at the age of 33 he became its chief of pediatric neurosurgery and a world-renowned surgeon.
Most parents want what is best for their children. They want them to succeed, to be happy, and feel accomplished in what their pursue in their life. It’s important to recognize, however, that thinking 15-20 years down the line is sometimes hard to do when planning our daily activities.
Reading has some more immediate benefits too. Ones that, if you pick the right books can almost immediately make your life easier. Perhaps the most important of these benefits is that books can teach children how to react appropriately to new situations–in effect, the books can model good behavior and inspire children to behave better, and learn things you’d like them to learn.
C.S. Lewis once said, speaking of children:
“Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”
Children will meet dragons in their life, in a myriad of forms. These dragons are sometimes people, but other times just difficult stages of life or milestones to be achieved. Books can help with potty training, sharing, dealing with bullying, coping with loss, you name it–the list goes on.
Take some time during these long summer days to have your children read, or better yet to read to your children (if age appropriate). Not only can it help your children achieve future financial and academic success, but more importantly it can teach them valuable life lessons and create a deeper and more lasting bond between you.
HAPPY SUMMER READING!
This post was contributed by Jane Tanner, co-founder of Bookroo, a monthly children’s book subscription service. FYI Bookroo is currently running a Buy One, Give One Promotion. You can learn more about that here: bookroo.com/summer-reading.