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Kids Need to Read!

The effect that reading has on the health and well-being of children cannot be overstated.  Consider the following proven benefits for children who read:

Vocabulary: Research confirms that most new words are discovered through reading.

Attention Span & Memory: Reading develops the ability to concentrate at length, retain detail and improve memory.

Listening/Speaking Skills: Reading impacts the ability of a person to listen well and speak effectively.

Critical Thinking: Reading strengthens ability to sort through information to make better decisions.

Spelling & Writing: Kids who read are better at spelling, punctuation and grammar.  Reading well-written books improves writing ability.

Creativity: Books require readers to exercise their imaginations, cultivating creative thinking.

General Knowledge: The amount you know is directly related to the amount you read.

Educational Success: Children who read score higher in all school subjects.

Success in Life: 50% of all unemployed youth are functionally illiterate. Readers tend to get better jobs and get promoted more often.

Positive Values: Kids who read wholesome books are less likely to take drugs, drop out of school or be imprisoned.

Parental Bonding: Reading to your child builds emotional connections.

The last point on this list is the one that captures my attention as a parent and grandparent: Reading establishes emotional bonds between children and adults. This is especially important when you consider that a recent survey calculated that the number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children was only 3.5.  That’s it!  Three and a half minutes of heart-to-heart conversation – per week! That same survey determined that the number of minutes per week that the average child watches television is 1,680, a total of 28 hours.  That’s more than 1450 hours a year!

Are you surprised?  It may be more serious than you imagined.  The Kaiser Family Foundation found that the typical American child spends more than 38 hours a week as a “media consumer” in a home that averages 3 TVs, 3 tape players, 3 radios, 2 VCRs, 2 CD players, a video game player and a computer.  In other words, the majority of a child’s waking time is consumed by non-human interaction with electronic gadgets.  Other than being told to “turn that thing down!” a parent may rarely if ever speak to their child in a meaningful way during any given week.

The simple answer is to establish the Bedtime Story as part of your daily routine.  At first, it may be difficult to break the TV habit, but I guarantee that after about a week both you and your children will look forward to those shining moments.  They will drag you over to the reading chair or jump into bed waving a book under your nose. You will travel together on fantastic adventures that only children’s books are able to take you.  Like Peter Pan sweeping Wendy off to Never Never Land, kids books have a magical way of carrying you to places like nothing else can.

You will start talking to your children.  You will talk about healthy things like fun and fantasy and wonderful dreams.  They will make you laugh.  You will discover that your children are a lot more interesting than anything on cable or YouTube.  You may end up enjoying reading time even more than your kids.

I guarantee that as the years go by your child will NOT remember any of the million TV shows they watched or the mind-numbing video games they played. But they will NEVER forget those cherished moments they spent reading with you.

It will change their lives.  And it will change yours, too.

(Challenge: Start reading to your kids TODAY.  Share your favorite Bedtime Story experience on this blog. We’d love to hear about it.)

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Comment from Bookworm
Time December 20, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Dear Nowen,

In all sincerity, our favorite Bedtime Story Experience is when Matt read Boomtown to the boys. I am not just saying that. It’s the truth. We read Boomtown in January of 2009. It’s December, 12 months later. Still to this day EVERY single book we read is compared to Boomtown…and none even come close to being as good as Boomtown. Matt and the boys still talk about the characters and stories from Boomtown with excitement and laughter!

We’ve read to the boys at bedtime since they were born. I can’t imagine life without that special time with them each night.

Thank you Nowen for ALL you do to encourage others. You are doing a fantastic job! I am always encouraged by you!

Comment from Nowen N. Particular
Time December 20, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Thank you, Marietta. Some of my best memories as a parent was teaching my kids to read – and having them bring their latest favorite book to bed to read over and over again. Those books remain some of my favorites, too. Perfect memories.

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