We do it all the time. We do it without thinking about it. You’re doing it right now! Reading. And we take it for granted. If you Google the world’s literacy rates, the results may shock you. Now, when people see the phrase ‘Books for Sale’ they have one of two reactions: they either race towards the source (books are sweet, delicious brain food!) or they scroll on by.
Literacy is important, and a skill we use every day. What better way to end your day and go off to dreamland than reading something wonderful before bed? Obviously, as we get older, we exchange the fairy tales for fantasy novels, or biographies of famous people, or books on subject matter that we find interesting. But the love of reading? Well, as any adult who is trying to get children and young adults to read anything longer than a social media post will know…you’ve got to start fostering that love at a young age.
I remember nights in Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood, and all the mysteries I solved with Nancy Drew, and I feel connected to something more than myself. It can be difficult to know where to start with this, but how about a collection for beginner readers full of fun, adventures, and laughter? Or fairy stories to prime your child’s imagination?
When you put a book in a child’s hands, or read to them, you’re not just offering them distraction from the ‘real’ world, you’re encouraging them to dream, imagine, and on a deeper level to be innovative, expand their vocabularies, and teach them how to articulate their experiences of the world.
Yes. Books are that powerful. When they read fairy tale stories, they don’t just remember that the princess was locked up in the tower, but also what she learned from the experience – they look to stories for role models – and to learn morality and important skills like sharing, co-operating, and understanding by figuratively putting themselves in someone else’s shoes.
Cinderella teaches us not to judge people on appearance, The Three Little Pigs teaches us about practicality, Harry Potter teaches us that perseverance and friendship can help us overcome any obstacle. There have been scientific studies that provide evidence that people who read fiction are more capable of practicing empathy than others. Is that not what the world needs? Reading helps us to be better humans.
If fairy tales and fiction aren’t on the cards, the other thing that children are constantly in need of is textbooks, which we all know can be a bit pricey but are, alas, a necessity for knowledge acquisition. So in this case, the ‘Books for Sale’ phrase can be very practical and useful to both parent and child alike, in a different way. But it’s difficult to argue that we haven’t all, at one time or another, been whisked away to a fantastic place we can never quite forget, and it all starts with the words: Once Upon A Time…