Fairytales and other bedtime stories are the childhood memories that remain with us all through our life. Tucked snuggly in the bed and listening wide eyed to mamma, papa or grandparents narrating a story of the beautiful fairy, the wicked witch and the adventures of Sindbad the sailor, form the base of all the dreams and imaginations of kids’ little innocent world. In there play and in their dreams, they imagine themselves to be the brave boy or girl of their favorite story. Stories are a great way of developing the child’s character, as also a great way of bonding with the child. The benefits of reading to the child are many.
Bonding with the child
Children love stories and you get to spend time with the child. The child’s interest and curiosity to know what happened next in the story makes you love the child all the more. Both together enter into a different world and become a part of it. Nicely written stories have the power to transport you to its world even if you are an adult reading out a children’s story. The child in you is awakened and thus you are able to connect with the child in a better way.
“What happened after that?” You cannot leave a story in the middle, if you are reading it out to little children! Stories generate curiosity by the sequence of one event leading to another. This curiosity has to be satiated by a logical end to the story. As the kids read or listen more to the stories, they unconsciously learn to seek possible solutions to their curiosities in life. They learn about the cause and effect relationship; how a certain action may lead to a particular type of situation. Curiosity leads to many important discoveries and innovations in life.
An extension of the previous point is development of imagination through stories. The child imagines herself/himself as part of the story, as some favorite character of the story. Such imaginations remain get etched in the sub conscious mind and shape our personality in later life. Your favorite characters may inspire you in real life too. Secondly, when reading or listening to a story, the brain is activated as it has to visualize the narration. This sharpens the child’s imaginary powers and improves his creativity in all spheres of life.
When we speak to a child we generally tend to limit our vocabulary to words which we feel the child knows or will easily understand. We restrain ourselves from using words which are new to the child and we feel she may not understand it. But when reading a story this inhibition is not there. We explain the new words to the child and the child too grasps it easily as he relates the word and its meaning with the theme and events in the story. The pictures depicted in the story also help him understand the meaning and significance of words. Thus stories are a potent medium for developing the child’s language and vocabulary.
Stories are very useful if you are multilingual. When you speak one language at home, another outside home and still another at the school or workplace, sometimes the child may get confused and may mix languages. For example, if you do not speak English at home but the child’s medium of education is English, in such a case English storybooks are the best way to teach the child the language. Explain in your own language as you read it in any other less familiar language. Gradually the child will learn and understand both languages.
Fairies, witches, kings and queens may not be real, but they have the potential to capture the child’s pure imagination, still unaffected by the harsh realities of life. Children easily connect with the story characters and hence stories can easily convey messages to them. All folktales and simple stories end with the victory of good over evil. The hidden message in every story tells the child to behave in a certain way; abut what is good and ethical and what is bad and immoral. These morals get etched in the child’s mind and he behaves accordingly in the society. He knows which is acceptable behavior with good consequences, and which types of behavior may cause him harm.
Learning about the facts of life
Stories are not just fairytales. Many facts of life also learnt through stories. Stories telling about inventors and inventions, life stories of great men and women, stories of bravery and such real life incidents teach the child a lot about actual life and its realities. Such stories prepare the child for life.
Reading out stories to your kids brings back the memories of your own childhood. Its interesting to read once again what you had forgotten in all your adult worries. Going back to the stories of carefree childhood is indeed very relaxing. The memories come back and you become a child once again with your child; connecting not just with your child but with yourself too all over again. You rediscover yourself and a sense of happiness prevails.
Books have a wonderful world. Start reading to the child when she is about one and a half . Books with big colorful pictures attract toddlers. Select happy stories for kids and narrate it with full expressions and drama to arouse the child’s interest. At times make your own story with the child’s participation. When you enjoy reading to the child and the child loves listening to your stories, he will certainly grow to love books and reading. A habit he will cherish for life, as this habit keeps children away from many harmful addictions like TV and video games or even bad company. Books are a world of treasures worth accumulating for life!