Stories play a vital role in the growth and development of children. The books they read and the characters they get to know can become like friends. It’s also good for children to understand that books are a useful source of information and that good reading skills are important for success in their future lives. Reading also helps children with their confidence levels, coping with feelings and language and learning.
Children who can read well are more likely to have higher confidence levels. This will benefit them in school as they’ll feel able to participate fully in activities. Another part of building confidence and self-esteem is knowing where you fit into the world. Stories can help with this process by showing children what people’s lives are like where they live and in other parts of the world.
Language and Learning
Stories are a great way to introduce new words and ideas into a child’s language – starting with picture books for the very young, working up to more complex novels for teenagers. Stories can help children learn about concepts such as shape, size, space and colour, up and down, inside and outside, numbers and the names of objects. They can also teach children about everyday tasks, such as how to brush their teeth, taking care of animals, cleaning and tidying and preparing food.
Stories are also useful for teaching more complex ideas, such as the importance of sharing, the passage of time, compassion for others. They can be useful when trying to explain traumatic events, such as family break-ups and bereavement.
Fiction based on real-life can also help children with their own life experience – it shows them how diverse the world is and that some people’s lives are vastly different to theirs.
And what’s so great about learning through stories is that the process is done in a natural way. There’s no actual teaching involved at all, they learn from simply reading the story.
Reading stories can be helpful for relaxation, before bedtime for example. They allow children to forget the stresses and strains of the day and indulge in fantasy for a while. The soothing familiarity of a much-loved story, the rhyming and repetition in a picture book, plus the sense of security that time spent reading together can foster, all help the child to relax.
Development of Imagination
Stories help to develop a child’s imagination by introducing new ideas into their world – ideas about fantastical worlds, other planets, different points in time and invented characters. It’ll encourage the children to realise that they can, and should, imagine anything they want. The beauty of stories is that they can be super realistic or incredibly fantastical. They can be reading about children growing up in exactly the same situation as them one minute and about another species, Martians holidaying on Jupiter for example, the next.
Coping With Feelings
When children read stories that contain feelings it can help them understand and accept their own feelings. It helps them understand that there are other children who feel the same way and they are not alone. This helps the child understand that feelings are normal and should be expressed. Watching their responses to the feelings of the characters in the stories will give you some idea of how a child feels about certain situations and emotions. For example, how the child responds to the character in the story feeling sad or scared will give you some idea of how the child thinks.
As you can see, children’s stories are important for a number of reasons and form a vital part of the growing process. Being part of that process can bring writers a sense of satisfaction as well as being great fun.