Of the many reasons why I love writing, perhaps the most crucial one is because I adored reading books as a child.
Reading has long been known as a powerful way to both entertain children and develop their minds, and this is something that I try to apply in my own parenting as well.
However, a recent study of over 2,500 parents and children in America reveals a decline in children reading for pleasure, from 60% of children in 2010 to 51% in 2015. In today’s busy world full of distractions and alternative activities, reading together with your child might not always take the top priority, but there are plenty of reasons why it should.
Fiction books, in particular, hold a tremendous amount of potential in helping children develop essential life skills that can help them in the long run.
Here are some reasons why fiction is key to a child’s reading and writing education.
Reading has long been known as a powerful way to both entertain children and develop their minds.
One of the most obvious benefits of fiction for children is that it introduces them to characters, concepts, and relationships that they don’t necessarily see in everyday life.
The Conversation explains that this opportunity to learn more about people and things outside of their experiences – and perhaps, of the realm of possibility – broadens their worldview, encourages curiosity, and invites young readers to make connections between fictitious scenarios and their own social reality.
Developing Cognitive Skills
In addition to expanding their imagination, fiction books help hone better concentration, memory, and analytical skills. The consequential nature of the events and situations relayed in fiction – as opposed to other children’s reading materials like encyclopedias and textbooks – help them develop these cognitive skills.
Helping Ease Anxiety
Not a lot of adults understand or place a lot of value in the stress children feel, but the Child Development Institute affirms that children commonly experience anxiety in the face of important life events. These include going to school for the first time, meeting other children, or even taking exams, which can make them feel alienated and different from their peers.
Good children’s fiction helps them deal with this, by overcoming those worries and introducing them to characters and situations that they can relate to. In this way, reading fiction can help children better adjust to their surroundings and deal with their anxieties.
Reading fiction can help children better adjust to their surroundings and deal with their anxieties.
A little known benefit of fiction for young readers is that it can also affect the way they relate to and interact with others. The BBC shares that children who read fiction regularly find it easier to understand more people and demonstrate a significantly higher level of empathy than their non-reading peers.
They also have better theory of mind, or the ability to understand that other people have their own thoughts and feelings that might be different from one’s own.
These social skills are not only important in handling conflict and doing well in teams, but can also help them understand and predict other people’s behavior, a skill that can help them in a variety of fronts in the future.
Letting Children be Creative Too
This empathy also empowers children in their own creative pursuits. As in many endeavors, being exposed to good fiction helps children develop the ability to create their own good ones as well, no matter what form their creative energy chooses to manifest itself in.
Award-winning children’s author and illustrator Chris Riddell highlighted this in his acceptance speech that was shared in a blog post on Tootsa. The Children’s Laureate 2015-2017 appointee said,
“I want to put the joy of creativity, of drawing everyday, of having a go and being surprised at what one can achieve with just a pencil and an idea at the heart of my term as Laureate.”
Riddell’s “Have a go and be surprised at what you can achieve” attitude is one of the most amazing delights of being a mom, resulting in creative drawings and stories like those made by Charlie and Maddi featured here on the Write Away Mommy blog.
Of course, one way to encourage your children to read and write fiction is to be there for them every step of the way.
What are your thoughts on children reading fiction?
About the Guest Blogger
DreamyMommy_RJ is an entrepreneur by day, freelance writer by night, and mother of two at all times. When she’s not managing her small business or slaving over an open word document, she loves spending time with her children and listening to their elaborate fantasy stories.