Sunday, September 17, 2017

What is the big deal about books - especially for children?  All of us know that it’s important to read to our babies, toddlers, and young students. Reading books allows our children to expand their imagination, builds their communication skills, and increases their intellectual level. Our children learn how to express their feelings, how to tell stories, relate to different subjects - it makes them think. I am personally a big fan of books. I still remember the stories my dad would read to me when I was just 3!  It’s amazing how our memory holds those special moments from childhood. Books are still my favorite type of relaxation. 

With both of my children, I try to read to them a few times every day (definitely before their nap time). There is no cartoon or TV show that can substitute parent’s reading to the child. Think about all the descriptive words, synonyms, adjectives your child gets to hear and imagine while listening to the story. They can talk to you about different endings of the story, how the characters can be renamed, what did they look like, how they could act differently, what was the moral of the story (you can choose more child friendly term though), where the things took place, etc. Some stories opened up some deep conversations with my almost 3 year old son. One of his favorite is “Peace is an offering”. You know they go through this lovely developmental stage of “why’s”?!  
I read in a few articles that there was a study on how little children interact with their parents during TV versus reading a book. It’s amazing that they almost didn't interact with each other during TV hours (I think the biggest problem here is the word “hours”). On the other hand, during reading time, little children would ask many questions, comment on pictures, and add their personal comments. TV shows are fast-paced and switch people and scenes very often. Books let the readers be at their own speed, take breaks. They are a proactive form of learning.  If there are some gaps in provided information, we are forced to use our imagination and concentrate more.

Study after study shows that the environment of a child's first six years builds the foundation that lasts a lifetime. At birth, their brain already has about all of the neurons it will ever have. Their brain doubles in size in the first year, and by age three it will reach 80 percent of its adult volume! So, our child's brain naturally has tremendous potential. Maria Montessori called it an "absorbent mind". “Our work is not to teach, but to help the absorbent mind in its work of development.” ― Maria Montessori

I prefer books that provide real life information (and that’s what Maria Montessori recommended in her method of teaching). There is nothing wrong with cute fairy tales with the good and evil theme in them, but I would focus more on scientific based stories that can teach our young children different planets, bugs, countries, languages, music instruments, cultures and traditions, seasons, etc. Our world has so many amazing stories to teach us, that we can’t read them all in our lifetime. The earlier we start, the more stories we get to tell! 

Knowing our child’s brain potential, you will be amazed how much information your child can remember. My son likes certain Russian authors and their stories.  My family has read them to him from his birth. We never focused on the authors names and just read to him actual stories. Once he asked me what was written on the first page. I simply and quickly said, “Korney Tchukovskiy. Children’s stories.” I forgot about this episode, but a few days later my son asked me, “Mom, can you read to me Korney Tchukovskiy?” As you can tell, the name of the author is not that easy to remember, even for  adults. Rodion was just 2.5 years old at that time. He proved to me that the young brain’s potential is limitless. All we have to do is just offer some good food for thoughts. Your children will listen even if they don’t know what some words mean. 
I have one more story that I really like. My son’s grandparents brought  him a book about Planets and Space. Rodion got very excited about this gift. He was about 2 years old. I mentioned to him a new name, Yuri Gagarin  (the first human to journey into space). In a few weeks, my son stopped reading that book and we put it on the shelf for some time. Six months later, before falling asleep, Rodion whispers to me, “Mommy, when I grow up, I will become Yuri Gagarin and will take you with me to the space”... He remembered that name.

In order to teach my children about the real world, I found some interesting and educational books. I have started my own collection to create a small home library for my kids. They can be separated and organized by subjects: geography, science, grace and courtesy (manners), peace education (this one is really important in today's world), language, art, music etc.
Make it a routine with your little ones to read during the day or in the evening. Create those special moments that will last forever! 


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