“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King
More than just ink on paper, or (now) marks on a glowing screen; books are connections, books are adventure, books are time machines, books are little treasure-chests that you can carry with you. First, in your hands as you read them; and then forever in your heart. As you go about living your everyday life, they pop out now and then, to guide you and advice you. They make you laugh or cry and help you grow in unimaginable ways.
I remember the joy of being lost in a book as a child. As I watch my children do the same, I am excited for them because I know learning to love books, is a special gift that will outlast any other.
Out of a bazillion, here are just 5 ways that books help children.
Books educate. They pose difficult questions and help answer them too. Fiction, fact or even a text book, one of the main ways a book helps is by teaching children about new things. By asking prosaic factual questions like “what is the tallest mountain?”, or a profound one like “what does love mean to you?” The book then gently guides the child to find the answer.
Books allow children to discover. A book is an avenue for a child to enter into new worlds and new or old times. It nudges them to explore and discover different countries and cultures. It helps them learn explore the past, present and the possibilities of the future. Books show children the real world around them. But also, perhaps more importantly, they allow children to experience a realm beyond the confines of reality. They enable children to explore fantastical ideas and thoughts.
Books enable us to connect: Imagine being shrunk into a tiny bot and entering into the mind of another person. Imagine reading their thoughts and emotions; and being able to understand them. Well, books do that! They help us enter into a character’s mind, understand the character’s perspective, and connect in a meaningful and empathetic way. The character can be anything too. It can a person, a genie, an object or even just and idea.
Books shape the moral landscape: Through books, children can experience situations which they may (I sometimes hope) not experience in real life. Situations of conflict and hardship, where difficult choices need to be made. In living these situations through the pages of a book, they decide their paths of right and wrong. Books are a powerful tool for shaping our moral landscape, and of talking about values that matter.
Books encourage aspirations and dreams. There are no limits in a book. Children can dream big and let their ideas run free and wild. They can be mermaids, firemen, doctors, or flying elephants. They can then meet superheroes, real-life ones, who have dreamt big made impossible dreams come true. A book can help a child reach for the big wide sky, it can help your children find their wings and soar.