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The Benefits of Reading to Children

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.”
– Kate DiCamillo

Earlier this month, the children’s classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd celebrated 75 years in publication. Through the years, Goodnight Moon has been translated into many languages–unfortunately it appears that it has not yet been translated into Bulgarian–and around 50 million copies have been sold.

Goodnight Moon was a beloved part of our children’s bedtime routine for years: the book is about a bunny’s bedtime routine. Each night as we read the book to our kids, we would find the items from the text on each page. For some reason, finding the red balloon was always the most fun. As our kids got a bit older, we also read Goodnight iPad, which is a parody of Goodnight Moon. Goodnight iPad was written by Ann Droyd, which has got to be a pseudonym.

Reading with children has many benefits. It helps build the bond between child and adult; it improves listening skills; helps develop cognition and language development; supports a child’s imagination and creativity; and expands their vocabulary–kids who are read to regularly from birth to 5 are exposed to about 1.4 million more words than those who are not read to. Reading with our kids also exposes kids to life lessons and provides an easy opportunity to talk about those life lessons. Kids who grow up being read to are more likely to become readers, which is one of the most powerful ways that young people can grow into academically successful students. On top of all of that, it is enjoyable and relaxing for adults as well.

I often lament that we do not still read with our teenage kids, though we did share one novel as a family during the lockdown period. Reading books aloud with people of any age is still mutually enjoyable and also has benefits. As we head into a long weekend with an unusually cool and wet forecast, it might be a perfect time to pick a book and have a family read aloud.

And now for something completely different (nod to Monty Python):
In a Weekly Howl blurb last June, I referenced work that AAS would be doing this year in collaboration with the NoTosh organization. AAS is working with NoTosh to review and revise the mission, vision, and strategic goals. This work begins with a “Design Team” consisting of about 30 AAS students, staff, and parents who will conduct interviews of other students, staff, and parents. The interviews are intended to inform the School and NoTosh about what AAS does well, ways to get better, and the strategic direction the School should head.

To the Design Team: thank you for taking the time to help with this important project. To everyone else, if you are selected to be interviewed, thank you for taking the time to share your perspectives.

If you would like to know more about the work with NoTosh, or if you would like a recommendation for a good book to read with your family, please let me know.

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.’”
– Groucho Marx (though who originally said this is disputed)


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