Stories play a vital role in the growth and development of children. The books they read and the characters they get to know can become like friends. It’s also good for children to understand that books are a useful source of information and that good reading skills are important for success in their future lives. Reading also helps children with their confidence levels, coping with feelings and language and learning.
Studies have shown that children who can read well are more likely to have higher confidence levels. A major part of building confidence and self-esteem is knowing where you fit into the world and stories can do this in a safe, secure environment. Stories can also help with this process by showing children what people’s lives are like where they live and in other parts of the country/world.
Language and Learning
Stories are an amazing way to introduce new topics and words into a child’s language – starting with picture books for the very young, working up to more involved novels for teenagers. Stories can help children learn about a variety of concepts and can also teach children about everyday tasks, such as how to brush their teeth, taking care of animals, cleaning and tidying and preparing food.
Stories are also useful for teaching more complex ideas, such as the importance of sharing, the passage of time and compassion and empathy toward others. Books can be incredibly useful when trying to explain traumatic events, such as family break-ups and bereavement.
Fiction based on real-life can also help children with their own life experience – it shows them how diverse the world is and that some people’s lives are vastly different to theirs.
And what’s so great about learning through stories is that the process is done in a safe, secure and natural way.
Relaxation and De-Stressing
Reading stories before bed can be a very relaxing experience for children. They allow children to process the stresses and strains of the day and immerse themselves in a fantasy world for a while. The soothing familiarity of a much-loved story, the rhyming and repetition in a picture book, plus the sense of security that time spent reading together can foster, all help a child needs to relax and unwind.
Stories develop a child’s imagination by introducing new concepts and ideas into their world; ideas about fantastical worlds, other planets, different points in time and invented characters. They encourage children to that they can imagine anything and be anything they want. The beauty of stories is that they can be realistic or incredibly fantastical. A love of reading is always evident in children's role-play as books give context for a child's imagination to run away with them.
Feelings and Emotions
If a child is going through a particular hard time or a situation that has brought lots of feelings welling to the fore, a book which reflects these feelings can help them understand that there are other children who are experiencing the same emotions and worries and they are not alone. These stories can help a child understand that what they are feeling is normal and is safe to be expressed. Watching how they respond to a character in a story that has similar feelings to theirs will give you some idea of how a child is coping in certain situations and a good guide to how deep their emotions may run. For example, how a child responds to a character in a story feeling sad or scared will give you some idea of how that child may be feeling and how developed that emotion is within them. Books can be amazing tools for therapy and allows emotions to be expressed and released in a safe secure way.
Children’s stories are incredibly important for a number of reasons and help form a vital part of their growing process. Books are incredible tools and their importance in the development of children cannot be understated.