The fact that kids need good literature is not a new one. Just look at the number of awards available in the United States alone to reward authors for superb children’s literature. The long list of such awards includes the Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal, Coretta Scott King Award, and Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. With such an extraordinary effort made to celebrate good children’s literature, there must be something important about it.
I know how short the attention span of a child can be yet how thrilling it is to watch a child’s imagination partake in an exciting adventure story. However, why should a child read good literature rather than watch an “educational” television show or an entertaining children’s movie? The answer lies in the benefits of reading to your child.
Research continues to support that reading benefits children of all ages in a number of ways. Reading helps to build your child’s vocabulary, develop his imagination, and improve his ability to communicate. In fact, there is a direct relationship between how many words an infant hears in a day and his language skills, and even his intelligence quotient. Reading is crucial in exposing your baby or young child to a variety of words. The images and colors in children picture books and illustrated books are also stimulating of the imagination. This is part of the reason why I spent a whole year interviewing illustrators after writing the first book in my series, Danny the Dragon—I knew from reading to my own children just how much children appreciate art in children’s literature.
So the next time you’re shopping for the kids at Wal-Mart, think twice before you get them another DVD, remember the pleasure you get from curling up with a good book, and pick out some high-quality children’s literature instead.