Introduce your children to the pleasure of reading books

by Jonathan Dickman, MD, PhD, with contributions from Joseph and Rachel Dickman
The magic of books is a wonderful thing to behold. I often find my children on the couch with a book in their hands leafing through the pages. These are some of the times when our home is most calm and serene. Don’t get me wrong, we have a television, but it’s in a secluded corner and is only turned on a handful of times a year. Screens feed people fast-paced images and diminish our ability to focus and be creative. Instead of spending time in front of a screen, we focused on reading and enjoying the stories they contain. Seeing my children sitting on the sofa, I asked my 7 year old son (Joseph) what he thought of the books and he said:
“I like to dive into a book because they can contain mysteries, which I love. You can learn from them. Sometimes they are so interesting that I read them over and over again. He also wanted all the children know that Geronimo Stilton and Dog Man are his favorites. He can skim through these books so fast that we frequent public libraries every month. Local public libraries provide free opportunities to engage the mind in thought through stories, l learning language and improving imagination.
My daughter, Rachel, also loves books and started early. When she learned that Joseph was supposed to read at least 20 minutes a day, she didn’t want to be left behind. At age 3, she started reading basic stories on her own. Now 5 years old, she loves to read aloud with expression and emotion, and laughs at the jokes in the books. His rapid language development was, in large part, due to books. She told me “It’s exciting, I can learn a lot of things.”
So how do you get your kids to love books? Initially, there is an investment of time for the parents. Children begin to like books because they are a means of interacting with their parents. In case you haven’t noticed, children constantly need adult attention. Sometimes I watch other parents stare at their phone screens in the playground as their kids get wilder and wilder, hoping to snatch their screen parent and pay attention to them. Books encourage interaction when parents read to their children. At a young age, children listen and watch their parents read the words as they try to figure out how to speak on their own. Later, children often pay more attention to pictures as they try to think about the story, anticipate what’s next, and eventually figure out how to read on their own. At some point, you might see your kids pick up a book on their own and use the stories they read as a way to unwind after a busy day at school.
Thanks to public libraries, children have free access to books and non-stop entertainment. Visit your local library today to unlock the possibilities of mystery, action and laughter. At United Family Medicine, we also donate a book at every healthy child appointment (between 6 months and 5 years old) because we understand how important reading is for the developing young mind. There are so many ways to get started, so make a plan to buy a book today.

About Marcia G. Hussain

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