The Beaverton School District, like school districts nationwide, began March by celebrating Read Across America. It made me remember how much I loved reading as a child, and it made me wonder if children are still reading books these days.

I am old enough to remember a time without screens. Side note: Don’t get me wrong. This is not another blog about limiting your child’s screen time, although I truly believe that is important. If you’d like to learn more about why you SHOULD limit screen time in your home, check out my other blogs about the harmful effects that scientists have discovered when children spend too much time on devices:

  • “Screen Time Can Damage Young Brains”
    https://www.jamsportland.com/2019/12/28/screen-time-can-damage-young-brains/
  • “What Happens If You Don’t Limit Your Child’s TV Time?”
    https://www.jamsportland.com/2019/11/27/what-happens-if-you-dont-limit-your-childs-tv-time/]
  • “Want To Limit Your Kids’ Screen Time? Maybe You Should Start With Your Own”
    https://www.jamsportland.com/2019/07/17/want-to-limit-your-kids-screen-time-maybe-you-should-start-with-your-own/

This, however, is a blog about the importance of reading books. Why is reading important for children? The gift of knowledge is the best gift you can give your children. Books are the keys that unlock a vast world of knowledge.

So says Ben Okri, a Nigerian poet and novelist: “Reading is an act of civilization; it’s one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities”

The Importance of Reading

The benefits of reading are many, especially in children. Reading enhances brain function. It improves cognitive thinking, logical reasoning, and critical thinking.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body,” says Joseph Addison, an English author and politician.

Your brain’s health improves drastically when you read, which of paramount importance in this fast-paced world.

Reading provides a break from the real world (or the virtual world) and rejuvenates the brain.
Reading also:

  • Improves vocabulary
  • Improves written skills
  • Improves verbal communication
  • Enhances concentration
  • Develops self-confidence
  • Imparts life lessons like empathy, kindness, anger management, and stress management

This blog shares other benefits you might be interested in.

Developing The Reading Habit

You are your child’s first role model, so start reading as much as possible in front of them. Be it the newspaper or a novel, just read. They will follow your lead.

Read with them. Set up a cozy reading spot and help them organize their books.

Give them access to new books. Book clubs, lending libraries, and book swapping clubs are great options for access to a wide variety of books. Provide your children with the opportunities and resources to become voracious readers.

Start Early

The brain of a baby is like a sponge. You can start reading to your baby from the first moment of life. Read to the baby daily; any kind of book will do.

Choose books that stimulate the developing senses of your baby. Board books with bold black and white images are very attractive to a newborn’s eyes. As the baby grows, you can go for colorful books with varied touch-and-feel features.

Be “present” when you read to the baby. Your voice is what they look forward to hearing. Use different modulations, animal sounds, and a sing-song voice when you read to your little one.

Reading To Your Kindergartner

Don’t make reading with your kindergartner only a night-time affair. Find time during the day to sneak in short reading sessions.

Look for books with feel-good endings that teach moral values such as being kind, showing empathy, being inclusive, and sharing. There are plenty like this that are fun but avoid being preachy.
You can also use your reading sessions to introduce numbers, alphabets, colors, and shapes. Choose picture books with big, bold letters and colorful photos or illustrations. Keep your child’s attention span in mind and don’t overwhelm with too many things to learn. Reading should be fun at this age!

They love being involved and choosing their own books, so plan regular trips to the library or bookstore.

Reading On Their Own

Kids who have just started reading are fascinated when the letters they know form words that start making sense to them. Continue reading with them; it’s your job to help them with some of those tougher words!

Kids generally start reading on their own between ages 5 and 6. Like any other milestone, each child reaches this milestone at their own pace. Don’t pressure an unwilling reader too much. Find the reading material that appeals to them. Comic books count, and Dr. Seuss books are fun at any age!

Reading For The Pre-teen

Pre-teens are at the stage where they can enjoy the best of childhood and teenage years.
They love adventure, fantasy, series with recurring characters, and novels set in historical times.

Now is the best time to introduce them to the world of non-fiction, autobiographies, and book adaptations of their favorite movies.

Books For Teenagers

Teenagers have plenty of options: Dystopian fiction, humor, fantasy, horror, romance, poetry, and science fiction. Sensitive topics like LGBTQ issues, mental health, and other life lessons are best dealt with in books.

You can find out more about encouraging your child to read here.

Book Recommendations

The best way to turn your child into a book lover is to direct them to books that are lovable. This list of age-appropriate recommendations will help you get you started.

Infants

  • Farm Babies: A touch and feel book by Rod Campbell
  • The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
  • I Love You Through and Through by Caroline Jayne Church
  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox

Kindergartners

  • All are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
  • Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
  • Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman
  • by Natasha Wing

Elementary Students

  • Dr. Seuss Collection by Dr. Seuss
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
  • Thumbelina by Xanthe Gresham

Middle School Students

  • Moon Within by Aida Salazar
  • Wonder by R.J.Palacio
  • Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Teenagers

  • The Hunger Game series by Suzanne Collins
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Celebrate Reading

Read Across America Day, an initiative by the National Education Association to foster reading habits among students, was March 2 this year.

Schools, libraries, and community centers across the nation will hold celebrations all month long to celebrate reading and encourage children to experience the magic of books.

Make it a holiday in your family, too!

Nothing fuels the fire for math than discovering you can be a math genius! If you’re not sure Abacus will help your child, sign up for a free preview of our class – there’s no obligation to register! Come meet with us, watch some kids in action, calculating at the speed of light! We guarantee you will have fun watching these little geniuses.

About JAMS

JAMS is proud to be the only Abacus math school in Portland and in the State of Oregon certified by the League of Soroban of Americas. Since 2001, we have dedicated to Abacus & Anzan instruction and to building a strong foundation of Mental Mathematics along with lifelong skills. JAMS empowers children to achieve academic success, so they will grow in areas that go well beyond the classroom. JAMS parents can expect their child to improve in 5 different areas: concentration, discipline, problem-solving, time management, and confidence.  This is the teaching approach at JAMS since opening its doors.