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Reading To Kids Does Good to Their Brains Biologically, Research Finds

Reading To Kids Does Good to Their Brains Biologically, Research Finds

In college I learned an important fact that came to be a driving force in my classroom as well as in my parenting. It’s good enough to share. Are you ready? The number of books a child has available in their home is strongly linked to their academic success in school. Specifically, studies show the more books in the home, the better those children do in school. It made a lot of sense to me at the time and seemed rather obvious; if a large amount of quality books were made available to children, they would likely be read to more often. Furthermore, those parents likely placed a heavier emphasis on reading and held a deeper understanding of its early benefits.

The study struck such a chord with me that many years later and at six months pregnant, I created a children’s library for the nursery. I bought a bookshelf and took one hundred dollars with me to a discount book store. I filled up all the shelves before my first child was even on this earth. As my family increased over the years, I made sure all of my kids had their own library. I added books along the way to meet their interests and developmental stages. I placed a heavy emphasis on reading aloud, always reading with them at night and as much as I could during the day. I taught them as many early literacy skills as possible during this time (text goes left to right, using pictures as clues, asking what they thought was going to happen or what the problem in the story was).

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Reading Aloud Has Its Benefits

Reading aloud with children had always come naturally to me but a crash course in college and putting the skills into practice in the classroom allowed me to learn there is a stark difference between reading with kids and reading to kids.  The craft, being able to engage a young reader so they can get the most out of the literature experience can be learned by any adult. But whether you are reading to a child or with a child, one things is clear. Scientists and doctors can now biologically prove that when children hear books read aloud, the chemical makeup of their brain actually changes.

Early Literacy Improves Academic Progress

Numerous studies have been done to show the benefits of early literacy and how its immersion ties into academic progress. But, a new study shows the “why.” It’s been something scientists and doctors have been wanting to prove for a while now. Most compelling is that this study has more than just observation-based data.

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Doctors and scientists now have scientific proof that the developing brain of a 3-5 year-old actually looks different when being read aloud to, dependent upon on how much the child has been read to in the past. “The MRIs revealed that children from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in the parts of the brain that help with narrative comprehension and visual imagery. Their brains showed greater activity in those key areas while they listened to stories.”.

From nine months of age, my girls have had a book read to them nearly every night before bed and often had two or three books read aloud to them during the day. My oldest is in the 99th percentile for her vocabulary and my four-year-old is as precocious as they come. I absolutely attribute their speech and language, comprehension, above grade level reading level, oral retelling and contextual understanding to one thing…being read to aloud daily.

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Good Reading Habits Show Up in Early Age

Early on in the school year teachers can often pinpoint which children have had a literacy rich background and which one’s have not (excluding children with suspected disabilities). Children who have not had books read to them often have lower comprehension skills, lower vocabulary skills and present with weaker reading stamina. Of course with anything and anyone, there will always be an exception to that rule but the statistics are telling.

If you want the best chance for your child’s academic (and even social) success, carve out as much time as you can for exposure to literature. Go to the library or bookstore and bring home books, lots of them. Libraries often have a check-out limit that goes well over one hundred books. This means you don’t have to make a weekly trip; every few weeks is plenty and can be worked into a realistic busy schedule. Getting these books into your home and then reading them aloud is the number one key to creating a literature rich environment.

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Look at it as front-loading. I realized veryquickly I would be far more capable of helping my children at the ages of three or five years of age than I would when they were failing high school chemistry or Algebra II. I hope by giving my children the needed tools when they are young, they will be better prepared for the future.

Thank science for its findings later but for now, make a plan to make your home more literature-based. At least once a day, tell your child to put down the iPad and pick up a book. Kids need to remember that reading is not only an option, but a necessity. And remember, there are more benefits to reading aloud with your child than just the academic successes that will come. The time spent one-on-one makes it even better. Adding daily read-alouds to your family’s routine is something you will never regret doing, sadly the regrets only come with the opposite.

Featured photo credit: Albumarium via albumarium.com

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Published on July 15, 2020

50 Best Books for 6 Year Olds to Make Them Love Reading

50 Best Books for 6 Year Olds to Make Them Love Reading

According to a study published in Pediatrics[1], children who have been read to during the earliest stages of their lives by their parents showed significantly greater activation of the brain. In addition to this remarkable physical effect, books teach children about relationships, personalities, and what is good and what is bad in the world they live in. The best books for 6 year olds can help.

While fantasy books encourage imagination and free play, fairy tales fascinate kids and help them distinguish between what is real and what is not. With that said, we’ve compiled the best books for 6 year olds to attract them to the world of books and to help them develop the habit of reading in the long run.

Why You Should Trust Us

From highly praised books by Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, XpressReviews to New York Times Best Sellers, our list covers the 50 best books for 6 year olds to make them love reading even more. We’ve made sure that the topics vary, touching different aspects of a child’s life, such as expression of nature and animal love, friendship, mystery, family values, and, of course, humor and fun! You can be sure that all these books will be beneficial to your child’s cognitive development and emotional intelligence.

1. If Animals Kissed Good Night

    The charming illustrations in this book by Ann Whitford Paul paint a perfect picture of how certain animals kiss their offspring goodnight. This book instills into the little one the names of various animals, their baby’s names, the sound they make, and their body parts.

    Get the book here.

    2. I’ve Loved You Since Forever

      This book by Hoda Kotb is an excellent depiction of a parent’s devotion to their child. It illustrates that the parent and child share a special bond that extends to before childbirth. The book incorporates simple text and heartwarming pictures of animals and babies.

      Get the book here.

      3. The Wonderful Things You Will Be

        Emily Winfield Martin’s rhythmic writing exhibits all the beautiful things that parents think about their children. This book embodies artistic and humorous illustrations that captivate both children and adults alike.

        Get the book here.

        4. God Gave Us You

          Lisa Tawn Bergren depicts a tale of a charming young polar bear cub who asks her mother a question of great importance—where did she come from? The mama bear’s response reassures all the little ones and communicates the exact message that they want to hear.

          Get the book here.

          5. 365 Bedtime Stories and Rhymes

            This story-time treasure from Cottage Door Press incorporates over 50 well-loved stories and rhymes, much to the delight of the little ones. It allows a different story to fill the wild imagination of the children every night before bedtime, making this one of the best books for 6 year olds.

            Get the book here.

            6. Grumpy Monkey

              Jim, the chimpanzee’s friend, cannot comprehend why he is in a bad mood when it’s so beautiful outside. The moral of this book by Suzanne Lang is that sometimes it’s okay to feel down, as long as you aren’t hurting someone in the process.

              Get the book here.

              7. Where the Wild Things Are

                Maurice Sendak’s award-winning picture book delineates the story of Max, a naughty boy who is sent to bed without his supper by his mother. Max then imagines running away to a land of Wild Things where everything is the total opposite of what he expected.

                Get the book here.

                8. InvestiGators

                  This goofy picture novel by John Patrick Green revolves around the lives of two alligators who happen to be InvestiGators. These InvestiGators have a case on their hands, which they solve with the help of their Very Exciting Spy Technology.

                  Get the book here.

                  9. Ronan the Librarian

                    The sister duo Tara Lubbe and Becky Cattie came up with the hilarious tales of Ronan the barbarian who somehow became a librarian when he found a book somewhere.

                    Get the book here.

                    10. Ways to Make Sunshine

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                      Ryan Hart, a pure spirited girl, has a lot on her mind. The money around the house is tight; therefore, complications arise daily. This book by Renee Watson beautifully depicts the story of this young Black girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks, landing easily on our list of best books for 6 year olds.

                      Get the book here.

                      11. Our Friend Hedgehog

                        This book by Lauren Castillo depicts the life of a hedgehog who lives on a small island with only her stuffed dog, Mutty. Her life is completely changed when a great storm blows Mutty away. If she wants Mutty back, her only option is to embark on a dangerous quest.

                        Get the book here.

                        12. We’re Different, We’re the Same

                          This book by Bobbi Kates features Elmo and his Sesame Street friends and teaches young children and adults alike a vital lesson: although we might look different on the outside, deep down we are very similar.

                          Get the book here.

                          13. I Am Enough

                            This book by Grace Byers is a lyrical ode that teaches children the significance of self-love, respecting others, and treating others with respect. Furthermore, it conveys the message that our existence has a purpose.

                            Get the book here.

                            14. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

                              Dr. Seuss’ well-known book’s hilarious verses and illustrations depict the ups and downs that occur in life. It encourages the readers to find the success that lies within and never to give up. A list of best books for 6 year olds simply wouldn’t be complete without Dr. Seuss!

                              Get the book here.

                              15. The Day You Begin

                                The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson reminds us that feeling different is entirely acceptable. Sometimes, we all feel like outsiders, yet we are brave enough to deal with the situation. If we reach out to others, we’ll find that they will gladly meet us halfway.

                                Get the book here.

                                16. The World Needs More Purple People

                                  Renowned actress Kristen Bell and director Benjamin Hart try to instill into the reader that Purple People are exemplary as they bring their family, friends, and communities together. They are kind and speak up for what’s right.

                                  Get the book here.

                                  17. Hair Love

                                    This book by Matthew A. Cherry portrays the story of Zuri’s hair, which has a mind of its own. It curls and coils in whichever way it wishes. Daddy then steps in to style it one day, but he has a lot to learn.

                                    Get the book here.

                                    18. When God Made You

                                      Children long to find their place in the world. Through playful rhyme, this book by Matthew Paul Turner assures them they are deeply loved in every sphere of life, so as to help them spread their wings and fly.

                                      Get the book here.

                                      19. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

                                        In this humorous picture book by Mo Willems, a pigeon springs up to take the place of a bus driver when he takes a break from his route. But this pigeon is quite special indeed.

                                        Get the book here.

                                        20. Julian Is a Mermaid

                                          This exuberant picture book by Jessica Love flawlessly illustrates how Julian reacts when he notices three women dressed spectacularly. Julian wishes to dress like the three women but contemplates what the others would think of him. This is one book that should absolutely be on any list of best books for 6 year olds.

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                                          Get the book here.

                                          21. Dog Man

                                            This story by Dav Pilkey of a part-dog, part-man crime-biting canine is quite exhilarating. The three-book boxed set is quite appealing to readers and explores positive traits such as empathy, persistence, kindness, and self-importance.

                                            Get the book here.

                                            22. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

                                              This is a story of Penelope Rex by Ryan T. Higgins. It’s her first day of school, and she is excited to meet her new classmates. But for her, it’s quite hard to make new friends, as they are so darn delicious.

                                              Get the book here.

                                              23. Bob Books

                                                Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen are explicitly written to build the little one’s reading skills. They incorporate colorful illustrations that make reading even more fun. Children will love each of these twelve books that are filled with drama, fun, and humorous stories.

                                                Get the book here.

                                                24. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

                                                  Another classic by Dr. Seuss, this book incorporates silly rhymes that leave every child giggling. It includes simple words and illustrations that encourage children to read all by themselves.

                                                  Get the book here.

                                                  25. NarWhal: Unicorn of the Sea!

                                                    NarWhal the narwhal and Jelly jellyfish share an unusual bond. They might not have much in common, but they do like to party, eat waffles, and embark on adventures. This book by Ben Clanton is about two friends as they discover the whole ocean together.

                                                    Get the book here.

                                                    26. How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans

                                                      This book by David LaRochelle illustrates Martha’s hatred for green beans. When some mean green beans kidnap Martha’s parents, it is up to her to save her parents and prevent the evil veggies from taking over her town.

                                                      Get the book here.

                                                      27. Uni the Unicorn

                                                        The magical story by Amy Krouse Rosenthal depicts the life of Uni the unicorn, who is told that there is no such thing as little girls. But he believes there is a girl out there, waiting to befriend him. This book reminds us that even the wildest of the wishes can sometimes come true.

                                                        Get the book here.

                                                        28. Ada Twist, Scientist

                                                          Ada Twist, a scientist, has always been curious. Like her classmates Iggy and Rosie her mind has always been full of questions. This book by Andrea Beaty conveys an essential message that even if things don’t go according to plan, it’s important to continue thinking through the problem and remain curious.

                                                          Get the book here.

                                                          29. Iggy Peck, Architect

                                                            In another great story by Andrea Beaty, we meet Iggy Peck. Ever since Iggy was a baby, he has built towers, buildings, and bridges. This skill of his comes in handy when his class is stranded on an island during a picnic.

                                                            Get the book here.

                                                            30. Zoo in the Sky

                                                              This tale by Jacqueline Mitton takes you on a journey where you get to see Little and the Great Bear, a scaly dragon, the Great Dog, and many other animals.

                                                              Get the book here.

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                                                              31. Pete the Cat

                                                                Pete the Cat is an interactive experience for kids by James Dean. It’s a story about a cat who goes walking down the street wearing his brand-new white shoes. As he treads, his shoes change color as he steps in a pile of strawberries and other fruits.

                                                                Get the book here.

                                                                32. Penny and Her Marble

                                                                  When Penny found a marble in Mrs. Goodwin’s front yard, she picked it up, dusted it off, and took it home with her. But did the marble really belong to Penny? Find out in this book by Kevin Henkes, one of the best books for 6 year olds.

                                                                  Get the book here.

                                                                  33. Madame Badobedah

                                                                    When a very old lady with bags stuffed with coins and jewelry arrives at the Mermaid Hotel, Mabel’s parents, the owners of the hotel, are suspicious of her. The moral of this story by Sophie Dahl is how first impressions can sometimes be quite contrary to reality.

                                                                    Get the book here.

                                                                    34. Magnificent Homespun Brown

                                                                      This book by Samara Cole Doyon incorporates vivid illustrations and encourages the reader to embrace his/her natural skin color. In addition to that, it includes a carol that promotes the message of self-care and self-love.

                                                                      Get the book here.

                                                                      35. Fox and Rabbit

                                                                        An easy-going fox and an anxious rabbit make a somewhat unexpected but perfect pair when planting a tree in their own backyard or searching for hidden treasure. There’s nothing that this duo can’t do when together in this great book by Beth Ferry.

                                                                        Get the book here.

                                                                        36. Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem

                                                                          Stella Endicott is enthralled when her teacher asks the class to write a poem. Stella comes up with a beautiful poem, but her irritating classmate insists that her poetry is a bunch of lies. They both end up in an argument and then sent to the principal’s office in this tale by Kate Dicamillo.

                                                                          Get the book here.

                                                                          37. Peter & Ernesto: Sloths in the Night

                                                                            This book by Graham Annable features the lives of two sloths who love the jungle. They are aware of how jungles can be dangerous at night. When their friend goes missing, they gather their trustees and embark upon the quest to find their friend.

                                                                            Get the book here.

                                                                            38. The Magnificent Makers: How to Test a Friendship

                                                                              This is a story of two best friends who love science. When a magic portal to the Science Space opens at school, they set out to explore it. This book by Theanne Griffith covers scientific topics that a child learns in school every day.

                                                                              Get the book here.

                                                                              39. Real Pigeons Fight Crime

                                                                                Crime-fighting pigeons are real. They secretly protect your neighborhood and fight crime all the time. Beautifully illustrated, this gem of a comedy by Andrew McDonald is hilarious and leaves the reader in a fit of tears.

                                                                                Get the book here.

                                                                                40. Paolo, Emperor of Rome

                                                                                  This picture book depicts the life of Paolo, a dachshund who is trapped in a hair salon in Rome. When he escapes one day, he goes and lives life the way he always dreamt it. This book by Mac Barnett, landing comfortably on our list of best books for 6 year olds, will leave readers cheering for the little creature.

                                                                                  Get the book here.

                                                                                  41. Baloney and Friends

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                                                                                    In this graphic novel series, Greg Pizolli introduces Baloney and his friends, who engage the reader as they perform some questionable magic. They encourage the reader to give them a boost when they are feeling down. This highly interactive book will undoubtedly be entertaining for your little one.

                                                                                    Get the book here.

                                                                                    42. This Way, Charlie

                                                                                      This tale by Caron Levis about Jack and Charlie is heart-warming. Jack likes to remain distant from the rest of the animals at the Open Bud Ranch, but when Charlie arrives, a powerful friendship begins between the two.

                                                                                      Get the book here.

                                                                                      43. Everyone’s Awake

                                                                                        This cleverly rhymed picture book by Colin Meloy depicts the story of a household and their simple goodnight routine that leaves not just the little one but the entire family in stitches with laughter.

                                                                                        Get the book here.

                                                                                        44. Charlie & Mouse Outdoors

                                                                                          This hilarious book by Laurel Snyder features Charlie and Mouse, two inseparable brothers. The duo, along with their family, embarks on a series of adventures in which they do all sorts of mind-blowing stuff.

                                                                                          Get the book here.

                                                                                          45. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

                                                                                            This inspirational text by Vashti Harrison is an essential book suitable for all ages. It features true stories of forty pioneering black women in American history and their will to never give up.

                                                                                            Get the book here.

                                                                                            46. Sulwe

                                                                                              Lupita Nyong’o, an Academy Award-winning actress, wrote this book about Sulwe, who has the skin color of midnight. In this picture book, she tries to instill in the children the importance of self-esteem and self-love, and encourages them to see their own unique beauty. The incorporation of these lessons make this one of the absolutely best books for 6 year olds.

                                                                                              Get the book here.

                                                                                              47. All Are Welcome

                                                                                                This book by Alexandra Penfold portrays life in a school where everyone is welcome. In this school, the children are allowed to wear hijabs, parkas, and yarmulkes. The moral of this book is that diversity should be celebrated.

                                                                                                Get the book here.

                                                                                                48. The Giving Tree

                                                                                                  This beautifully written and illustrated book by Shel Silverstein is a masterpiece. It includes the story of a tree who ends up being a shade provider and apple bearer for a boisterous little child.

                                                                                                  Get the book here.

                                                                                                  49. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book

                                                                                                    This book by Jeff Kinney enables your child to write his/her own version of the Wimpy Kid journal. It encourages the little one to draw Wimpy-Kid-style cartoons and comics inside and will entertain your little artist for hours.

                                                                                                    Get the book here.

                                                                                                    50. The Racehorse Who Learned to Dance

                                                                                                      Charlie’s racehorse, Noddy, has won the Derby against all the odds and even bested a bunch of kidnappers. But he faces his biggest challenge yet. Will Charlie and Polly be able to teach Noddy how to gallop? Find out in this exciting book by Clare Balding.

                                                                                                      Get the book here.

                                                                                                      More Books for Children

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      Featured photo credit: Josh Applegate via unsplash.com

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