I am currently enrolled in a Studies in Children’s Literature course. My first essay was due last night and I found the assignment very interesting. After taking notes I realized that we do not understand how truly important it is for children to be read to. With that said, the following post is part of my essay–Why is it so important to expose children to literature?
Having children read literature opens the doors to further information about the world around them. It is agreeable that it influences the way we think about ourselves and in the world. Reading to children at a very young age will influence the way in which they choose to live in the future; whether it be through decisions of interests, or education. Therefore, a child’s exposure to literature depends on the parents, as well as the caregivers. Not all pleasures can be taught, but that does not mean that they cannot be introduced.
If children do not learn how to read and or are not read to, then they will never get to make the choice between reading and television (or any other activity for that matter). I have chosen the two strategies in which I feel are most important in gaining a child’s interest as far as literature goes. The first is simple; make reading fun. As explained by my instructor at college, Professor Williams agrees that speaking to a child is very important. Children learn by being talked to and read to. I believe that talking about what objects are on each page do enhance a child’s vocabulary, but it also allows them to express themselves, thus promoting cognitive learning. After a child has learned what a “ball” is, then why not move on to the next step? What can we do with a ball? What do you like to do with a ball? I do believe that these methods of the reading experience will allow the child to develop a greater interest in the stories. They will look forward to the routine in which they were provided; cuddling up with Mom, helping to gently turn the page, and showing her what we remember about the objects in the story.
Another way in which we can get children interested in literature is by selecting the right literature to expose them to. My theory is simple: if we enjoy it, then there’s a good chance that they will enjoy it too.
Remember, just because there are some “big” words in the literature, certain poems and stories may still be worthy enough to be shared. We often underestimate children and their intelligence. So what if they do not know the meaning of new vocabulary? Should they be deprived of the poem all together because of minor obscurities? Children are still able to enjoy literature even if they are too young to read it themselves. Even if there are unfamiliar words, they can still enjoy it. Children’s books have such significance to the lives of youngsters. It is all about the initial experience of not only the way in which a book is presented to them, but the individual attention they are receiving from a parent or caregiver. Even if the child cannot read, or even understand the meaning of a few words, therein lies a comfort aspect that children feel when hearing an adult read to them.
As mentioned in my introduction paragraphs, reading to a child at a very young age is crucial to their growth process. Of course they learn language, facts, and enhance memory skills, but the real power in children’s book are the emotional effects they have on our lives. These emotional effects are derived from the reading experience and this experience depends on those that wish to provide us with it.
It is like Aidan Chambers said: “Readers are made, not born.” If it is true that when we become adults that we remain totally connected to the child we once were, then we should all be compelled to read to our children as early as possible.
*I will be recommending some of my favorite Children’s Literature here on The Nifty Nanny blogsite. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, questions, and any suggestions you may have for fun books and poems for kids!
(Photo courtesy of apples4theteacher.com)