Three Reasons to Read to Our Kids
A recent study reveals that 42% of children ages eight and under have their own iPad. With screens on the rise--especially in the hands of little ones--I can only imagine that the number of parents reading aloud to their kids is on the decline. After all, why read to your child when a screen can show them a movie or interact with them in a game? I confess it's a temptation for me.
But in these days of easy-screen-escapism, I want to encourage you and me to dig in and read more to our kids. Research shows that reading fiction is especially beneficial to us and our children. Perhaps in 2018 we can resolve to put down our iPhones and pick up some page-turning stories to read aloud to our children.
Here are three reasons to motivate us:
1. Your kids want you to read to them. A survey released in 2015 says, "Eight in 10 children ages 6 to 17 said they loved or liked being read aloud to because it is a special time together with their parents." 80% of kids want their parents to read to them. And up to age 17! This is an astounding and open invitation to parents to give reading aloud a try--even with their teens. I can testify that my 14 year old still loves being read to. My husband and I each read to our kids almost daily. The stories we share provide a wonderful centerpiece for quality time and formative conversations.
2. Absorbing stories is a better teacher than trying to absorb facts. In How Now Shall We Live, Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcy tell us that stories are the best teachers, "Because a story gets at aspects of the truth that are beyond the power of didactic teaching. Symbols, metaphors, allegories, and images move the whole person--the emotions and senses as well as the intellect. The rich, evocative words of literature are far more powerful than factual descriptions." We and our children alike will learn more about history, the human experience, ethics, and more as we enter into good stories with one another. For example, as I read my children Daughter of the Mountains, they are learning far more about what life in Nepal and India was like in the middle of the 1900s, than they would learn if I simply read them some facts from a history textbook or encyclopedia. The impressions of the characters and the setting will stick with them much longer than facts from a timeline.
3. Reading stories makes us empathetic. After doing a decade of research, a professor and author at the University of Toronto said, "People who read more fiction were better at empathy and understanding others." Apparently, stories cause readers to view life from the perspective of the protagonist, thereby training their minds to be understanding of others. In the midst of our deep cultural divides, I can't imagine a better time to be training ourselves and our kids to grow in empathy. How beneficial to read stories with protagonists from other cultures, ethnicities, and social classes. Want to make the world a better place? Read books about people who are not like you--walk in their shoes. In Making Sense of God Tim Keller says our background beliefs shift "usually not through argument but through experience and intuition." Reading stories broadens our experiences and shapes our intuition, causing us to change.
Blessings to you and your kids as you embark on a reading journey in 2018. Make some goals. Make a list. Challenge one another to put down your screens and take up a book. You have nothing to lose and much to gain.