The im­por­tance of chil­dren read­ing

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

David Hill, this year’s win­ner of the New Zealand Post Ju­nior Fic­tion Award, of­fered some im­por­tant ad­vice re­cently.

Writ­ing in the New Zealand Her­ald, he said: ‘‘ Kids who read stay out of jail. Read­ing gives them words. Words give them the abil­ity to ex­press and clar­ify them­selves to oth­ers.

‘‘How many young guys end up in strife be­cause they don’t have the vo­cab to ex­plain what they’re do­ing, and so they move from in­co­her­ence to frus­tra­tion to vi­o­lence?’’

It’s a thought-pro­vok­ing point, and well made.

But I think read­ing goes fur­ther than giv­ing us words and the abil­ity to ar­tic­u­late a point of view.

Yes, it shapes speech and lan­guage de­vel­op­ment, but read­ing to­gether also in­creases our bond with our chil­dren – it’s a great ex­cuse for close­ness – and it en­ables chil­dren to es­cape into some­one else’s life and see the world through their eyes.

It teaches un­der­stand­ing and, most im­por­tantly, it teaches em­pa­thy.

I doubt that any child could read Char­lotte’s Web with­out em­pathis­ing with Wil­bur when he loses his very dear friend Char­lotte, who had saved his life.

Sim­i­larly, could any child read The Diary of Anne Frank, The Sil- ver Sword or The Boy in the Striped Py­ja­mas with­out de­vel­op­ing a keen sense of the in­jus­tices and atroc­i­ties caused by war?

So read with your kids – it will in­flu­ence who they be­come.

Start early, with repet­i­tive texts and rhyming dit­ties.

Even small tod­dlers who don’t yet fully un­der­stand the words will en­joy the rhyth­mic de­lights of books such as The Wonky Don­key and Hairy Maclary from Don­ald­son’s Dairy, as well as tra­di­tional tales and nurs­ery rhymes.

If you make it a habit and make it a part of ev­ery­day life, your chil­dren will de­velop a love of read­ing for them­selves.

It’s great to see Alan Duff’s Books in Homes spon­sor­ing sev­eral Porirua schools, pro­vid­ing free books to chil­dren three times a year.

En­cour­age your kids to make good use of your lo­cal li­brary, help­ing to set them up for a life­time of read­ing plea­sure. Their world, and their per­son, will ex­pand and de­velop in count­less ways.

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