We often hear about the benefits of reading to children from an early age such as increased vocabulary, language development and learning about the world around them. The benefits of reading go beyond education and can be beneficial in teaching children important life values. Parents and caregivers can use story time to help young readers explore values and think about the world around them in new and exciting ways.
Reading has been shown to increase empathy especially when books are read about people who are different from us. When we read a story about someone else’s experience we can begin to think about and understand what it must feel like to be in their position. Parents or caregivers can use stories to ask, “How would you feel if that happened to you?” or “How do you think the character felt when that happened to them?”
Picture books can be great empathy builders as well. Help young readers identify the emotions that are visible on the characters’ faces. Try and see how many new feeling words you can come up with. This is a great way to expand a child’s feelings vocabulary beyond mad, sad and happy.
Reading can help children think about problem-solving. Many stories involve dilemmas that characters must work through. A great way to explore values is to ask young readers, “How would you solve that problem?” or “What would you do if you were in that situation?” Continue the conversation by asking, “Why would you choose to do that?”
Reading to children is a great way to share values that are important to you. Take some time to reflect on your own values. What do you want your children to know? Research and choose books to read to your children that are in line with your values. Then, discuss those values with your children and share why they are important to you.
Include older children as well! Reading together can be a relationship builder as children grow up. Think of it as your own family book club. They may even introduce you to some new books you never knew you would love!
Simply put — we teach people to solve problems and build relationships. By equipping people with skills to navigate conflict productively, families, schools and communities put themselves at the center of nonviolence.