“Once Upon a Time …” – Reading to Children Makes Them Happy and Smart!

Winter is coming … It’s time to cuddle up with stories and let your the imagination run wild.

Exciting, funny, disturbing, romantic and sometimes sad … For hundreds of years, stories have provided entertainment for all age groups. Stories are of great importance in the development of our children as they not only arouse emotions but also allow us to access empathy. We put together a collection of exciting links, events and get you thinking about what reading aloud could do for you and your children.

Hada leyendo un libro en el bosque

Inspiration for the whole family

The Cambridge Literary Festival is here! Originally established in 2003 as ‘Wordfest’ the Cambridge Literary Festival prides itself on bringing you an eclectic mix of today’s best writers, thinks and speakers. The Winter edition of the festival takes place on the 23-25 November and with such an impressive and diverse set of events with a diverse program for all ages and interests. Readings by international celebrities and authors, discussions and much more that makes literature accessible for all.

 

Edinburgh International Book Festival

One of the most popular literary events is the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It takes place in mid to late August every year and attracts an estimated 220,000 visitors. The festival welcomes around 1000 authors in over 900 events for adults and children each year. The next edition will take place on 10th-26th August 2019, so get booking! (pun intended).

Enkelin liest Oma aus einem Buch vor

A Short History of Reading

Humans have been reading out loud for audiences for many centuries. In the past, when most people were illiterate, reading aloud was used to transmit especially valued texts. Already in the antiquity, there was already a tradition of reading as a pastime for enjoyment. Even Roman officials, who were not always able to read and write themselves, participated in readings of socio-political and literary texts because they valued the common cultural experience. Before the invention of the TV as an after-hours entertainment, reading aloud in the circle was the favourite pastime of the whole family, oft3en combined with handicrafts. Later, reading out loud was even used as entertainment in Cuban cigar factories to distract the workers from their monotonous work.Niño en el colegio sentado en su mesa

Why is reading aloud so important?

Reading aloud is not just a beautiful entertainment, it also has huge benefits for the development of children. Children who are read to daily have a larger vocabulary and they learn to read and write quicker later in life. They also tend to bring better grades home and have greater educational opportunities. Many studies on the subject come to the same conclusion: reading aloud is one of the most important basics to promote reading and writing in children. In addition, children who are read to are often more receptive and focused.

Little girl and open book

A little girl walks into a beautiful landscape in an open book.

Even for the little ones

Even small children like to hear stories. It is often how they encounter literature for the first time and by hearing the literary language, they unconsciously pick up language patterns that help them to understand and interpret texts more easily later in life. In contrast to television, which describes all the pictures, stories inspire the imagination and creativity of children. Books enable them to experience a whole new world. By listening, children train their abstract thinking and learn to empathise with others. Especially in familiar surroundings, books offer a good opportunity to process worries and conflicts, or facilitate conversations about everyday topics. Moreover, regularly reading to your child makes you closer, and thus facilitates the educational work. Such moments of rest are missing in our hectic everyday life. In the evenings before bed, reading aloud is a great way to put off the excitement of the day and slowly come to rest.

 

Reading-aloud tips

Since children love rituals, it is helpful to schedule a fixed time each day for reading aloud.

Make yourself comfortable on the sofa, on the bed or in the armchair and switch off (your mobile phone, TV etc.).

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Let your child choose the book, whether at home, in the bookstore or at the library.

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Be patient, even if you have to read the same story again and again. Try changing the story’s content. How does your child react if, for example, in the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” suddenly an elephant stands in the forest?

Bring the characters to life by varying the voice and incorporating facial expressions and gestures.

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Ask questions and give your child time to develop their own thoughts and to ask questions themselves. By reading aloud, you can talk to your child and find out what keeps her or him busy and moving.

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Reading aloud knows no age restriction. Even if your child can already read by her or himself, experts still recommend reading up to the age of 10.

Place books so that your child can reach them at any time. Making books available at all times may encourage your child to read or ask to be read to.

Enjoy the powers of literature together and immerse yourself in new worlds!