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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

Reading for Kids: 17 Reasons Why It’s Important and Where to Start

Reading for Kids: 17 Reasons Why It’s Important and Where to Start
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Reading is one of the most important activities that you can encourage your children to do. It’s entertaining, thought provoking, and absolutely critical to success later in life.

Being a proficient reader by the third grade is an integral factor in a child’s future success. Reading for kids is not just a fun pastime. It is the gateway to learning about other people, places, and ideas, with limitless possibilities.

Why Reading for Kids Is Important?

Develops Vocabulary and Language Skills

Before your kids are able to read on their own, it’s important to nurture a love for books early on. Reading aloud to them at a young age is a great way to promote verbal communication skills between parent and child.

As kids get older, we speak to them on a daily basis, but the vocabulary and topics that they are exposed to are limited and often repetitive. Reading books will improve your child’s vocabulary and expose them to different types of sentence structure, writing styles, and ways to express themselves.

Not only will your children’s reading comprehension improve over time, this will also have a positive effect on their writing and communication skills. For children who are bilingual or learning a second language, reading is an important component of attaining or maintaining fluency.

Encourages a Thirst for Knowledge

There are books written about any topic imaginable, many in a wide variety of reading levels.

When reading books, your kids will be introduced to a wide variety of topics, cultures, and ideas. They will realize how much knowledge is out there to be discovered and delve further into the subjects that interest them the most.

In many cases, they will be enjoying the content of the book so much that they won’t even realize they are gaining so much knowledge about a particular topic.

Increases Empathy

Children have a very narrow understanding of the world around them. This is due to the limited number of experiences that they have encountered, based on the circumstances in which they grew up.

Reading books about different types of people who have had a wide range of experiences allow kids to not only appreciate diversity but also to understand what it may be like being in someone else’s shoes.

Doing so will help them appreciate and empathize with people who have very little in common with them and help them develop into more well-rounded individuals.

The Best Form of Entertainment

In the current age, technology has become the go-to for entertainment for adults and kids. Although TV shows and kids apps like these can be a great resource for learning, books are a better choice every time.

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Rather than spending hours in front of a screen, encourage your kids to consider books as the default source of entertainment. Studies show that in families where reading was emphasized, the children are more likely to read independently and develop a passion for books in the long run.

Creates a Bond

There are multiple ways that reading creates a bond between parent and child. Starting from infancy, reading aloud promotes closeness and intimacy through spending time together and being physically close.

As your child gets older, you can continue to read aloud or read the same book separately and talk about the parts that you enjoyed the most.

Use reading as an opportunity engage and interact with your child, asking them about their thoughts on topics covered in the book or connecting the story to everyday life.

Exercises Their Brain

Reading requires more brain power than watching TV. When our kids read books, they utilize the part of their brain that deals with multi-sensory integrations, making connections between words and visual thinking.

For beginner readers, illustrations can be a useful tool to help them grasp the narrative and gain better comprehension. In the case of more advanced readers, they use their brain when gathering context clues to help them figure out words or phrases that are unfamiliar.

Reading also stimulates critical thinking, spurring kids to make connections between the book and real life and to form opinions about the story.

Improves Concentration

Reading a book requires focus and concentration, which are essential skills to work on, even for toddlers who have trouble sitting still.

Consistently reading books will help your kids practice quieting their minds and their bodies to focus on a task for a set period of time.

By taking away distractions and giving them space to read and understand, their attention spans and ability to concentration will greatly improve over time.

Sets Them up for Success in School and Life

There have been numerous studies that indicate reading books to children at an early age has a lasting effect on their success in school, which often directly correlates with success in the workplace.[1] But the benefits are not just limited to academic success.

Reading is a long-term learning experience that promotes growth, which will result in your children becoming more effective people overall – better spouses, bosses, and friends.

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Promotes Creativity and Imagination

When reading a story, our children create an image of how they perceive the story to look in their minds, using creativity and imagination. Every person sees a different image in their mind, and it may change each time the same book is read.

Reading also introduces new worlds, whether real or fictional, that we have never been a part of before. Immersing in the book allows your kids to imagine new experiences and scenarios that they never thought possible.

They will be able to bring these ideas into their play time and use their creativity to go beyond the limits brought on by their everyday lives.

Where To Start

Now that you are aware of the multitude of benefits that reading can provide for your kids, what’s the next step?

If your child has not yet developed a love for reading, it’s not too late to start.

1. Make Reading a Choice, Not a Chore

Don’t make reading a mandatory task or assigned chore. Encourage and remind your kids to read, but let them make the ultimate decision on when to read and for how long. Feeling like they are being compelled to read will inevitably take the joy out of the experience.

If you have a reluctant reader, try to figure out what the root cause of the reluctance is. If your kids are struggling with words, find a few books below their reading level to instill confidence in recognizing the words they DO know. Gradually transition to harder books until they are more eager to read voluntarily.

Another alternative is to try audiobooks. Hearing another person reading confidently is a great way to experience fluency, and they will be able to enjoy the book without having to stumble through it.

If the content is the issue, and they find reading to be boring, introduce them to different types of reading material (see below).

2. Suggest a Variety of Reading Material

Reading can come in so many forms and every type has something unique to offer the reader. If your kids are having trouble finding joy in reading, it may be because they haven’t found a genre that fits their interests.

Traditional books come in many genres, including mystery, history, biographies, fantasy, science fiction, and more. Some books are written in unique and fun styles, such as choose your own adventure books, diary novel, or epistolary novel.

If you are looking for reading material that is more visually stimulating, try a graphic novel, a magazine, or a travel book. Books are also great resources for learning a new skill. Joke books, magic books, and cook books are great examples of these.

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Don’t forget to show your kids the practical side of reading as well. Enlist their help in reading out the grocery list at the store or ask them to read recipe instructions when cooking in the kitchen together. All types of reading counts:

    3. Experience Books Firsthand

    As your kids read more books, they may start to imagine what it would be like if they were characters in the books. A great way to support their love for reading would be to help them depict their favorite parts of their book.

    Look up a recipe for butter beer (Harry Potter) or Turkish Delight (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) and make it together. Start planting a garden together after reading The Secret Garden.

    Another fun way to celebrate finishing a book is watching the movie interpretation of it. Seeing beloved characters come to life on screen is an easy way to enhance the enjoyment of reading.

    4. Be an Example

    You are the main person that your kids look up to. Kids love copying their parents and doing the things they observe their parents doing on a daily basis.

    Don’t just tell your kids to read often; show them by doing it yourself.[2] Actions speak louder than words.

    When you model your own love of reading and books and show them the joy it brings to your life, they will be inclined to feel the same way.

    5. Set Aside Time

    For a child with a busy schedule and so many other fun screen-filled activities to choose from, it can be difficult to purposely reserve time for reading.

    Make this decision a little easier by creating dedicated time that is just for reading. This can be just before bed, right after homework, or whatever time works best for your family’s busy schedule. This time can be used for read aloud time with your child or independent reading.

    6. Bring Books to Life

    Finding real life connections to the books that your kids are reading will extend the joy of the reading experience.

    Did your children just finish a book about life on the farm? Take them to visit a local farm and experience what they read about firsthand. Reading a book about planets and space can turn into a trip to the planetarium.

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    For a more memorable excursion, take a family trip out of the country, like visiting London after finishing the Harry Potter series.

    7. Make Books Accessible

    One of my favorite activities to do as a child was to go to the library. The vast number of books that were at my disposal made me so excited to read.

    Find a great library in your area to take your children and let them experience the magic of limitless possibility. Sign your kids up for their own library card and encourage them to take ownership of their reading adventure.

    Start a small collection of books at home so that your kids will always have books at their fingertips. Visit a bookstore, browse online, or sign up for a monthly book subscription. Getting access to new books on a regular basis will keep reading exciting and fun.

    8. Start a Book Club

    Having other people help you stay accountable is a great motivation to read more and to discover new books you may not have otherwise.

    Encourage your kids to start a book club, either with their peers or with you. Choose a book everyone would enjoy and set a deadline for getting together and discussing what each person thought of the book. The tangible due date is a great incentive to stay on track and read on a regular basis.

    The Bottom Line

    Fostering a love for reading in your kids is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

    Reading books can transport them anywhere they could imagine, and the benefits that it provides for them in the short and long term are innumerable.

    Use these tips to actively encourage reading to be an enjoyable part of their lives, and it will be worth the effort.

    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Katie Lemons

    Parenting Blogger and Full-Time Working Mom

    Reading for Kids: 17 Reasons Why It’s Important and Where to Start 13 Ways Working Moms Can Balance Work and Family (And Be Happy) 18 Fun Activities for Kids to Do on a Rainy Day These 18 Smart Kids Apps Will Make You Rethink Learning and Education 14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

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    Published on July 22, 2021

    20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week

    20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week
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    It’s 5 p.m., and you’re exhausted. The kids are hungry, but no one knows what they want to eat for dinner. With very little energy, you force yourself into the kitchen and look through every cabinet, hoping for a spark of inspiration. Eventually, you toss a few ingredients together and hope for the best. It won’t win any prizes and falls short of what you consider “healthy,” but it fills everyone’s stomachs.

    Feeding a family can be stressful, even tiresome. It’s hard to find the energy and creativity needed to cook healthy but simple family meals. It’s easy to fall into the “anything goes” mentality. When you’ve got a busy lifestyle, meals become more about survival and less about nutrition.

    Here are 20 quick and healthy—but tasty—recipes followed by tips on making these family meals more nutritious. These recipes can help you have a healthy family meal on the table in an hour or less. Remember, swap ingredients out if someone in your family has dietary restrictions or if you avoid certain foods.

    1. Mini Meatloaves With Green Beans and Potatoes

      These miniature meatloaves come together quickly and cook faster, too. You can have a family favorite on the table, paired with seasoned potatoes and fresh green beans, in just 40 minutes.

      Get the recipe here.

      2. One-Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta

        This classic will taste like you spent hours cooking, but the preparation and clean-up couldn’t be quicker. One-pot cooking makes this dish practical, while fresh basil, parmesan, and garlic add a special touch.

        To try this recipe, go here.

        3. Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

          Skip the restaurant and make fajitas at home. The ingredients go on one sheet pan, meaning you won’t spend all night cleaning. Zesty chicken, bell peppers, and warm tortillas can be on the table in 40 minutes. Add sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, diced tomato, and any other favorite toppings.

          Check out the recipe here.

          4. Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

            Lose the carbs but keep the cheesesteak flavors with this quick family meal. Kids will love the pepper “bowls,” and you’ll love giving them a meal full of veggies and protein to keep them healthy.

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            Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

            5. Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl

              This veggie-packed meal adds an extra boost by using the superfood quinoa instead of rice. Flavorful yet simple, this meal makes an excellent packable lunch or dinner for your whole family.

              Find the recipe here.

              6. Spinach and Chicken Skillet With Lemon and Parmesan

                The complex flavors of lemon and parmesan come together nicely in this gourmet-like dish, but you don’t have to exert the effort or spend as much as a gourmet meal.

                Get the recipe for this dish here.

                7. Oven-Fried Fish and Chips

                  Fish and chips can also sometimes be healthy as evident in this oven-fried version. You won’t miss the calories with this favorite family meal.

                  You can find the recipe here.

                  8. Pineapple-Teriyaki Chicken

                    Tangy pineapple and sweet teriyaki will have everyone coming back for seconds. Frozen vegetables make this simple family dish even easier to make and enjoy.

                    Find the recipe here.

                    9. Mozzarella, Basil, and Zucchini Frittata

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                      This egg dish is usually served for breakfast, but a frittata can make a fantastic dinner, too. High in protein, packed with zucchini, and delicious, there’s no reason to wait until morning.

                      Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                      10. Chicken and Sweet Potato Grill Packets

                        Skip the pans and throw everything into foil with this fun family recipe. Kids will love loading ingredients into their pack, and you’ll love its versatility and simplicity.

                        The recipe for this meal can be found here.

                        11. Chicken and Spanish “Rice”

                          Cauliflower takes the place of rice in this low-carb family meal, but it’s so flavorful and filling, no one will miss it.

                          Find the recipe here.

                          12. Honey Chicken Stir Fry

                            This honey chicken stir fry is the healthier version of a restaurant favorite that can be served up quicker than you can order it.

                            Find the recipe here.

                            13. Chicken Skewers With Tzatziki

                              Greek chicken and tzatziki sauce will have you yearning for the Mediterranean, but you can make this recipe at home for your family to enjoy.

                              This easy recipe can be found here.

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                              14. Healthy Walking Tacos

                                Traditional walking tacos are a party favorite, but they’re not usually healthy. However, this recipe keeps it fun while making it more nutritious.

                                Find out how to make it here.

                                15. Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

                                  This classic comfort meal can be ready when you walk in the door. All you have to do is add noodles, and it’s ready to serve.

                                  The recipe can be found here.

                                  16. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

                                    This usually takes a little over an hour, but the preparation time is only 30 minutes. You’ll love how easy it is, and the cheesy rice is sure to please.

                                    Find the recipe here.

                                    17. Crockpot Rotisserie-Style Chicken

                                      Skip the checkout line and have a rotisserie-style chicken ready at home. A staple in many quick meals, you might find this family meal recipe among your most-used.

                                      Get the recipe for this flavorful chicken here.

                                      18. Santa Monica Street Tacos

                                        Named after a simple taco found on the streets of California, you’ll be surprised that something with only a few ingredients can be so flavorful. Your kids will surely enjoy them.

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                                        Find the recipe here.

                                        19. Pizza Pasta Salad

                                          Enjoy the flavor of pizza without the hassle of making a crust. Use a fun pasta shape to make this even more appealing to your family, especially kids.

                                          Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                          20. Slow-Cooker Lasagna Soup

                                            Everyone loves lasagna, but it can be time-consuming and messy to make. However, this soup version has the taste you want but with the ease of a crockpot.

                                            Get the recipe here.

                                            Bonus: 3 Simple Ways to Make Meals Healthier

                                            Eating healthy doesn’t have to take a lot of money, time, or thought. Any improvements are a big step in the right direction.

                                            Here are three easy ways you can make meals healthier for your family.

                                            1. Lose the Sugar

                                            Are you looking to improve your health? Cut processed sugars from your diet—the more, the better, and that includes artificial sweeteners.[1] Why? Studies show that sugar increases the risks for weight gain, heart disease, acne, type-2 diabetes, depression, cancer, fatty liver disease, cellular aging, and low energy levels.[2]

                                            2. Avoid Highly Processed Foods

                                            Many processed foods are fine to eat. Even fresh fruit and vegetables go through some processing to stay fresh longer. However, highly processed foods have added salt, sweeteners, saturated fats, preservatives, and artificial colors. These types of food have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.[3]

                                            3. Replace Simple Carbs for Complex Carbs

                                            Lowering daily carbs can do wonders for your health. Studies show that low-carb diets lead to lower insulin levels, lower bad cholesterol levels, visceral fat loss, weight loss, reduced appetite, and can be therapeutic for many brain disorders.[4]

                                            When eating carbs, choose complex carbs over simple carbs. Simple carbs, such as white flour, rice, and degermed cornmeal, lack nutrients and spike blood sugar levels. Complex carbs, such as sweet potato, brown rice, and oats, are usually more nutritious and aren’t digested as quickly, giving more sustained energy and less of an insulin spike.[5]

                                            Enjoy Family Meals With Less Stress!

                                            Dinner can be enjoyable again now that you’re armed with simple and nutritious recipes for your family. These healthy and tasty family meal recipes can help you feel even better about what you serve. Best of all, you’ll have the extra time and energy you saved from cooking and spend more time with your family.

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                                            More Healthy Eating Tips

                                            Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

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