For generations, parents, teachers, and other adults have delighted in reading storybooks to children. Even in today's digital age, there are many significant and potentially long-lasting benefits to capturing the imagination of a child. Whether it's a classic fairytale or a tale meant to impart an important moral lesson, storybooks are still as essential to childhood as ever.
Visually Expanding Vocabulary
The brain learns new words better by seeing them rather than hearing them spoken. Since storybooks typically introduce new words in a visual way with an illustration to go along with the word itself, children develop a clear understanding of what a word looks like, how to say it, and what it means.
Whether it's wondering why people sometimes die or wanting to know why a big brother or sister doesn't always have time to play with them, children sometimes have a hard time asking questions about things they are curious about in their own world or the world around them. Storybooks that appropriately deal with such topics can make it easier for kids to say what's on their mind, which can be a good starting point for a meaningful conversation.
Stimulating Brain Development
It's never too early to start reading storybooks to children. A study involving MRI scans of preschoolers as they were being told stories showed a noticeable increase in activity in parts of the brain that process meaning from language and support mental imagery. Even newborns 0-3 months of age are able to focus on simple images on a page.
Improving Listening Abilities and Attention Spans
Children who are 5-6 years old are usually able to pay attention to something for interest for about 10-15 minutes. The average human attention span is about eight seconds, although most adults are able to constantly refocus when necessary. When kids are engaged in storybooks, they tend to have a better ability to listen and pay attention to the stories they are reading out loud to themselves or having read to them. These skills that may come in handy later in life when high school, college, and work-related reading requirements are much more demanding.
Let children choose some of their own storybooks based on what sparks their imagination and select age-appropriate stories you feel are a good mix of entertainment and learning. You'll know you've found the right balance when children reach a point where they look forward to story time, actively ask questions, request favorite tales over and over, and show an honest desire to expand their reading abilities.