They Call Me Mr. Books… by Trevor Burnett SAC Co-chair and Ward 3 PIAC Representative
This past year I have been volunteering in my son’s kindergarten class. The kids call me Mr. B, I tell them “Mr. B for Books!” I can say without question that is has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I have yet to meet a child that was not excited to sit and read for me and with me. Each student is unique in terms of how they read and it is so fascinating to observe.
The single most important thing that I have learned from these little readers, is that it is less important how ‘well’ they read as much as how much they love books. As long as they enjoy the experience of reading it will be more likely that they will want to become avid readers irrespective of their ability to pronounce words or finish every page. The goal as the acronym goes is to B.E.A.R (Be Enthusiastic About Reading).
Here are Mr. B’s five compelling facts to ponder the next time you read with your child:
Fact 1: Reading builds school readiness…
Reading is one of the easiest ways to increase school readiness. When you read to your child, you’re building their vocabulary, language and literacy skills, while improving concentration, curiosity and memory.
Books are a great way to teach children how to handle new experiences and stressful situations. Stories can help children understand, talk about and deal with everything from starting a new school to the loss of a pet. Watch the video below to learn more about how reading builds comprehension and critical thinking skills.
Fact 2: A recent Harvard study concluded…
One particular research spanned a year and measured the impact that parents reading had upon their children. The study leader, Dr. Elisabeth Duursma, found that girls in particular benefitted more when read to by a male. “The impact is huge – particularly if dads start reading to kids under the age of two,” explains Duursma. “Reading is seen as a female activity and kids seem to be more tuned in when their dad reads to them – it’s special.”
While the study highlighted the positive influence dads reading has upon girls, previous research also shows how doing the bedtime read is one of the strongest forms of ‘bonding’ between fathers and sons.
Fact 3: Reading and mindfulness go hand in hand…
Reading calms your child, especially when he/she is fretful and restless. It promotes a longer attention span, which is an important skill for your kid to be able to concentrate. Enter mindful reading, whether it be a child or parent, it takes practice and it is radically different from forcing the reader to getting through each sentence or cramming in information.
Mindful reading slows down the reader as well as the reading and that alone changes the experience. It is a process of quiet reflection that requires mindful attentiveness, letting go of distracting thoughts and opinions to be fully in the moment with the text. It moves the reader into a calm awareness, allowing for a more profound experience and understanding.
Fact 4: Books build empathy…
Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, say that fiction tricks our brains into thinking we are part of the story. The empathy we feel for characters wires our brains to have the same sensitivity towards real people. Carnegie Mellon University studies discovered that when you get lost in a book your brain lives through the characters at a neurological level.
Unlike watching the television, reading allows people to develop their theory of mind. Theory of mind is the ability to attribute mental states to a character or situation. When reading, the reader is forced to do this, whereastelevision does the work for them. Improving theory of mind can enhance a person's sense of empathy.
Fact 5: Book worms can become social butterflies…
Most of the time we label readers as introverts, but reading is a great opportunity for social interaction. At school or at a library story hour, books can bring children together and can be part of a positive shared experience, similar to book clubs for adults.
For some preschoolers this may be their primary opportunity to socialize and to learn how to behave around other children or how to sit quietly for a group activity. It is an opportunity for children to share their thoughts on what was read or even mentor their younger siblings or classmates who may need a little extra encouragement.