Understanding the importance of books and reading in early childhood education is a necessary attitude not only for educators and educational institutions, but parents should also be aware of the benefits gained from the practice of reading.
For children, learning to read is a moment that marks the beginning of new discoveries and possibilities. That is why it is fundamental that the school, together with the family, encourages the habit of reading in children from the early school years.
Benefits of reading to children
Contact with books, the act of smelling, feeling, and interacting with stories helps in the psychomotor, cognitive and intellectual development of children. Reading also contributes to improvements in vocabulary, speech, and school performance. Check out other benefits of reading for children:
- Stimulates creativity
- Encourages the acquisition of culture
- Improves writing
- Encourages imagination
- Encourages ethical attitudes, among others.
What influence does reading have on children?
Reading is one of the most powerful tools we have for interaction with the environment and also for our understanding of the world. In this sense, it is necessary for children to become familiar with books from their first year of life. Whether at home or at school, through storytelling and then children’s literacy, literature stimulates different skills in children. Books support language development, the expansion of vocabulary, creativity, and the discovery of the imaginary world, for example.
In this way, education must take advantage of the repertoire that every children’s story offers to introduce children to the differences between cultures and people. In addition, it is possible to teach them to deal with issues in an ethical manner, and also help them deal with emotions and feelings during their development.
Reading projects in early childhood education has another fundamental role in the formation of children: that of creating little and small readers who see the moment of contact with books as more than just an obligation. And that they enjoy these situations!
Literature in early childhood education promotes, precisely, contact in a more playful way. It is a way for children to expand their imaginative repertoire, finding true friends in books. Encouraging reading in childhood, therefore, has the great power to change lives and present the world, creating a reality in which books become more than just allies of education itself.
How to encourage the habit of reading in children?
It is up to the educational institution to propose activities that encourage reading in a dynamic way and awaken the interest and curiosity of the little ones. At home, parents can also include moments for family reading in their routine. When adults show interest in books, children automatically feel attracted to the world of reading.
It is important that throughout the pedagogical activities, educators are alert to possible learning problems. If necessary, those responsible may be advised to seek specialist help from psychologists registered within the British Psychological Society, and schools can develop specific programmes, with qualified professionals, to help children with learning disorders.
Create a reading routine
Reading should be introduced naturally into children’s everyday life, and should not be something imposed. Even in the classroom. For this, take into consideration the amount of attention children dedicate to reading and respect this limit.
As the little ones grow, observe which subjects catch their attention the most. Allow the child to read with you or to you, ask questions about the storyline, and encourage conversations around the story read. Make reading time a pleasurable moment for adults and children.
When literature is seen as a moment of relaxation and fun, creating the habit of reading becomes less challenging and certainly much more enjoyable. Whether at school or at home!
In this way, making time for reading can generate positive experiences. Take the children to the playground or to the trees, for example. Let them choose the books they wish to read and create reading cards to be filled in later. Create reading groups and encourage the exchange between pupils. These are some tips to create a reading routine, not only at home but also in the classroom!
Learn about the stages of a child reader
During child development, in addition to age, there are other factors that influence the child’s reading stage: their psychological, affective, and intellectual maturation and their knowledge of reading mechanisms. All this will tell us whether the child fits into the stages of pre-reader, beginning reader, reader in the process, fluent reader, or critical reader.
Although age is still the main filter for selecting the most suitable books for children, each one develops in a different way. Therefore, content adaptations can be made so that each child can read whatever is most appropriate for their age and reading level. Check out:
From ten months to two years – Ideally, stories should be quick and short, with simple and attractive pictures. There are books made of cloth, plastic and that come with puppets, which are ideal to arouse the curiosity of the youngest.
From two to three years old – Children’s books should contain quick stories, with simple text and few characters. In addition, it is important that the plot can be contextualized with the child’s routine.
It is possible to offer books with puppets, musical books, and storybooks, which contribute to increasing the child’s repertoire of known words and help form some basic notions.
From three to six years old – The books should contain stories that propose experiences that are consolidated in family and school environments and should feature various images️. Folding books and the use of costumes by the storyteller are indicated to further engage children with the story told.
The importance of reading in childhood is undeniable. It is essential for the formation of good readers and more aware and critical citizens, so the encouragement of parents and schools is essential.