Author: Nicola J. Rowley
It was 7:30pm and my two year-old was in his cot, ready to go to sleep. We’d already read three books together that night. Whilst I was out of the room trying to tidy away some of the chaos of the last few hours, I could hear him happily chatting away to his toys. “Lion, you’re flying,” he gleefully announced as he swooped one of his favorite cuddly animals up over his head before pronouncing very loudly, “Crash!”. Lion, it would seem, had just come to a sticky end, buried in the folds of the duvet.
The books we’d just read included “Zog“, Julia Donaldson’s award-winning story about a dragon who is growing up and learning how to roar, breathe fire and of course fly. And while learning how to flap his wings successfully, Zog meets a similar fate to Lion, and crashes into a tree.
A Glimpse At The Power Of Story Books For Kids
It’s not the only time I’ve seen how books are helping feed my little boy’s imagination. At the moment, Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a firm favorite. It is usually read at least once a day. It helps that myself and my husband are his principle caregivers and that there are three of us (a daddy bear, a mummy bear and of course a baby bear). Now each of us have been assigned different sizes of imaginary chairs, which we sit on, different sized bowls, which we eat porridge out of, and different sized beds that we pretend to sleep in. Then of course together, we discover the fabled Goldilocks herself.
We have also spent many a lovely Sunday morning on a woodland walk in search of The Gruffalo, who we have been assured “is definitely hiding somewhere nearby in the deep dark woods.”
That books can have such a profound effect on young minds shouldn’t come as a surprise. But it is the pathway they provide into a whole new world, rich for exploring, that is key. It will come as no surprise that as an author, I’m an avid reader and believe that children are never too young to enjoy books. When my son was born, I started reading to him within weeks of his birth. It makes me incredibly happy to see the on-going enjoyment he now gets from turning the pages, learning new words and going on these special adventures.
The thinking is they’re too young to understand them yet, and they will wait until they are older. In my mind, they are doing their children a great disservice.
Reading together from the outset is quality time. Time spent exploring the pictures, what the characters are up to, what else can be seen. It is a great starting point. Familiarity with stories does help with their understanding and grasp of language.
At one of my recent primary school visits in the UK, the children were asked by the Head teacher how many had received books as presents for Christmas.
My face lit up when there was a sea of hands all waving frantically to show this was indeed the case. Books should very much be afforded the same status as the toy that can help enhance language skills, imagination, and recognition of words and numbers.
I have to say as a huge fan of poetry and rhyming books, those written by Julia Donaldson are some of my favorites. For a long time now, bedtimes usually finish with a familiar text, where the end of sentences can be finished and recognized by my son.
So much so that when he’s at nursery and they’re having reading time, he will be one of the first to volunteer the words, which can be for some, more alien.
Three times last week, I was asked to fall into a bog to be alongside my little boy, such is his fascination with another Donaldson classic, Room on the Broom.
Last night, we were pretending to creep up the hallway to avoid detection by a giant blue dinosaur, which had a large mushroom in its mouth, because, “mummy, that is a good idea.” He currently has toy figures of dinosaurs and has an encyclopedia about dinosaurs out on loan from the library.
My message to you, if you’re reading this as a parent or a carer, is simple. Please introduce books as early as you can. It definitely helped reignite my love for children’s stories, and it has provided a special bond between me and my little boy.
I look forward to seeing what other adventures we will be taking in the not too distant future. I’m sure some of them will involve Mog the Cat (another favorite), and the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood.
I hope that you too take the time to instill a love of reading and books. It is after all, one of the most important things I believe that we should be doing as parents. Story books for kids don’t just teach children how to read, they teach them how to use their imaginations and engage in pretend play. These are crucial skills that all children need to develop.