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August 24, 2015

The Secret to Happier, Healthier and Smarter Kiddos.

"Reading," ThomasLife, Flickr

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Books open our minds to the possibilities in life.

A recent study published by the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics shows how more reading at home leads to greater brain development in three to five year-olds.

It does this by activating the left hemisphere of the brainthe side where we make sense of things and attach meaning.

Dr. Hutton, the lead researcher suggests in the New York Times that old-fashioned reading to a child is superior to screen time because it helps activate their brain in a way that leads to greater creativity,

“When we show them a video of a story, do we short circuit that process a little? Are we taking that job away from them? They’re not having to imagine the story; it’s just being fed to them.”

Growing up in a small farming town in Minnesota, my local library was the gateway to the world. It literally (get the pun?) set the stage for all the opportunities that would come my way later in life. It also made me a kinder, more thoughtful person. I faced the same dilemmas as Ramona Quimby and the other babysitters from the Babysitter’s Club. I was enthralled by Where the Wild Things Are and my daydreams took new shape with every character and plot.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”~ George R.R. Martin

Reading to children also sets the stage for boosting emotional intelligence, including enhanced empathy. When we become engrossed in a story, we’re able to magically step in someone’s shoes and view life from their vantage point. We can live a 1,000 lives through the books we read.

And for kids, being read to by a loving adult creates memories that a device could never replicate.

Here are some tips on how to cut down on screen time:

  1. First, model the behavior. Power down your laptop, TV, smartphone and have a day where everyone digitally detoxes once-a-week. Or, if that’s too extreme, set a “digital curfew” to power down all electronic devices.
  2. Use your mobile phone sparingly around your kids. Kids crave connection and when you’re tethered to your device, researchers have found that children are more likely to misbehave in a bid to get your attention.
  3. Kids love routine and ritual. Set aside special reading time every day to read and connect.
  4. Get other loving adults to read to your kids.

And if you’re not a parent yet, there are plenty of organizations like Reach Out to Read who are looking for volunteers in your community.

Instilling a love for reading is not only about literacy, but the numerous life lessons and skills that make us more understanding, compassionate, and imaginative human beings.

 

Relephant read: 

Introducing Children to the World of Reading.

 

Author: Kristi Kremers

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: ThomasLife/ Flickr

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