Reading is a fundamental skill and is an essential foundation for many other skills. Without the ability to read, we would struggle with learning different subjects, be unable to communicate with others, and even a task like driving would be difficult because we would not understand the road signs! Many naysayers say reading is a waste of time- and to them, I say reading is not a waste of time.
Here are seven reasons to prove why it is not a waste of time. Here they are:
- Improves concentration and focus
- Improves vocabulary
- Improves writing skills
- Broadens your mind
- Boosts empathy
- Reduces stress
- Helps Build connections and friendships
I’ve picked these seven reasons as they encompass what you as a parent would want your child to know and also what your child might want to gain from reading as well. So let us dive into the seven reasons why reading is not a waste of time to help encourage your child to read more!
Reading is a skill that requires a person’s full attention. When you are reading a book, you need to concentrate on each word so you will be able to comprehend the story you are reading. Think of how often you have multi-tasked, not giving any of those tasks your full attention. Were the tasks completed well? Not very well? Or maybe not at all?
If you cringed while reading this, I’m guessing they were not finished well, and that is why having good focus is essential.
If you consistently read books with kids, you are helping develop their muscles of concentration. By developing those muscles early on, they will learn to be disciplined and focused, setting them up for success later in life.
Every task or activity in life requires some level of focus. I know that getting a child to concentrate can be challenging, but it is a skill that, when developed over time, will improve their lives in the long run.
Long-term goals are hard to focus on because they feel daunting and never-ending. However, someone with better focus is more likely to succeed at those long-term goals than someone who struggles to focus.
So, you should use reading as a tool to help develop focus and other skills, and both you and your kids are more likely to do well in life, develop a broader imagination, and be happier.
Reading is an excellent way to expand your vocabulary. When a child has a book read to them or reads one on their own, they will come across new words to help develop their mental dictionary.
We see this in how children’s books develop as they do. Children who are just starting to read have books with five or fewer words on each page, often accompanied by pictures to help them understand what they are reading.
As they get older and their reading and vocab skills develop, those five words turn into twenty, a hundred, and will keep rising as their reading level does.
Children’s brains are like sponges, just waiting to soak up as many new words as possible. So by giving them books to read, you are aiding in giving them the knowledge they seek and will need to continue developing as they get older.
Children are also excellent at learning foreign languages when they are younger for several reasons. Because of the brain’s elasticity and ability to rapidly absorb neural information, they can learn languages faster than adults.
Children also do not have the same fear of making mistakes or sounding silly that adults do, leaving them more open to learning a new language.
So if you want your child to be bilingual, you can give them books in another language to aid in that. Reading the book to them or speaking in that language will also help them learn the language.
Remember that their minds are tiny sponges that want to absorb everything. Do not let them get their little hands on reading material with inappropriate language; otherwise, they might have a more colorful vocabulary than you would want them to have!
It might be hard to believe, but our favorite authors did not come out of the womb as writing geniuses. Masters of the craft like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Ernest Hemingway took years to develop their writing skills and become the world-renowned authors they are today.
Learning proper grammar, syntax, sentence structure, and more takes time. It takes years to progress these skills, and for some people, they will need to brush up on these skills from time to time because they have forgotten more than they remember!
Reading books is the easiest way for your child to learn grammar and improve their writing skills. The books they read have gone through rounds and rounds of editing, so when they read the finished product, they will have exposure to proper grammar, punctuation, and more.
Some children may pick up on these skills quicker than others, and that is fine. Every child learns at their own pace. And as much as some parents and teachers might not want to admit it- not every child will be good at everything they learn.
The child that is an excellent writer might be a terrible mathematician. The child that excels at math might struggle with writing. Nobody is good at everything. But by reading and working with your child, they can develop writing skills that will carry them through school and work.
If your child appears to be gravitating toward writing, encourage them to do so. Writing is an excellent form of self-expression and they can apply those writing skills to many different careers. So give your little one a pencil, a sheet of paper, and see what comes from it. The results could be magical.
One of the most excellent parts about reading books is that there are numerous genres out there, so everyone is sure to find a genre they like! Reading is a multiple-purpose activity. We can read for educational purposes, entertainment purposes, or a mixture of both.
We are not limited to the number of books we can read or how much information we gain from those books.
Children’s books are a great mixture of educational and informative. Children’s books that have sound effects with them are a great way to keep the child entertained but also encourage them to absorb information.
Keeping things fun and educational is why the children’s sections at bookstores or libraries are so lively and interactive – they understand children to do their best learning when they are having fun.
We know some skills cannot be learned from reading, like making friends, driving a car, and more. However, books can give your tiny human a stepping stone to knowing what friendship is and how to be a good friend.
Books can also teach your child about different emotions, which leads us to our next section.
Think back to the English classes you took throughout school and the books you read in those classes. Are any of them standing out to you as memorable? If so, that means this book likely had a profound impact on you.
Books allow us the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone else. Through reading, we can understand other people’s perspectives, understand their emotions, and empathize with them in a unique way.
Nonfiction and fiction both offer us the ability to learn empathy but from different perspectives. Nonfiction books like The Diary of Anne Frank give us a real-life view of being a teenage girl during one of the most horrific times in history.
Fiction books like The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men have us empathize with the characters as if they were actual people.
Books take us on adventures with the characters. As we read, we accompany the characters as they make difficult choices that impact their lives and identities. We watch them make mistakes and face the consequences. We watch them lose loved ones and sometimes even themselves.
Books allow us to view all of these events from a safe distance without having our lives impacted. However, we learn from these characters’ mistakes and, in turn, make our own character more potent.
So if your child reads a lot, they are strengthening their character without even realizing it. They are learning to be empathetic to others, which will make them a better person as they get older.
The books and characters we love stay with us for a lifetime, and the lessons we learn from them remain with us through every event we go through in life.
The world around us can be a stressful place, no matter what age we are. Though children and adults share very different stressors, it doesn’t diminish what those feelings of stress can do to us.
Stress plays a negative role in our physical and mental health. It can lead to us becoming sick or feeling sick, can lead to our bodies being in pain, and more. And this is not just in adults, but in kids as well.
You did it as a child, and your kid is probably doing it to you now (and one day their kids will do it to them), but your tiny human has likely once told you they were feeling sick or had a headache and could not go to school that day.
In these situations, it’s a 50/50 on whether they are faking or being honest. For some children, if they are experiencing bullying or exclusion from their peer group, the stress of these events can make them feel genuinely sick, even if they do not have a temperature or other symptoms to back up these claims.
Reading is an excellent way to reduce the stress your child is feeling. Author Stephen King says it best: “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Books can offer your child a temporary escape from feeling isolated or targeted by others.
In books, your child can slay a dragon, go off to a school of magic, become a Demigod, and go on as many adventures as they want.
By immersing themselves in a world that is not ours, it allows their stress levels to go down and for them to feel happy again.
There is nothing wrong with reading to relieve stress, and there is nothing with reading many books. However, ensure you talk to your child and see if something is bothering them. Books are an excellent way to relieve stress, but they are not a substitute for good parenting.
Making friends as a child can either be the easiest or most complicated thing in the world. Making a new friend can be as easy as “I like your light-up shoes. Be my friend?” or as tricky as “You took the ball I wanted at recess. You are not my friend.”
Making friends as a child can especially be problematic if your child is shy, bullied, suffers from anxiety or another disorder, and for many other reasons.
So for some children, they need an icebreaker to help them connect to someone. A small opening, like seeing another child reading their favorite book, could help give them some confidence to go over and say hi.
Books have a unique ability to forge friendships between people who might not otherwise be friends. I met one of my best friends when I saw her reading New Moon in our Journalism classroom. I would have never gone up and spoken to her had I not seen her read that book.
So if your child loves to read, taking them to a library could be an excellent way for them to make a friend. Bookstores sometimes have story hours or events, so taking your child to one of those could help them make a friend as well.