Reading has the power to transport us to new worlds. Our imagination is brought to life, and we learn about cultures and times different from our own. Books teach us new things; take us to different places, and engage and entertain us. For children, books have the power to benefit their learning, through social and cognitive development, and can also help their mental health. Reading sparks physical activity in the brain which helps build language, literacy, and social-emotional skills. On International Children’s Book Day, which was first celebrated in 1966, we’re encouraging families, teachers, and children to participate in reading events in their local communities.

Here are five benefits of reading with your little ones:

Books develop their thinking skills:

By reading to children, we provide them with a deep understanding and knowledge of their world. With this knowledge they can make sense of what they see, hear, and read which assists their cognitive development (thinking skills).

Books develop empathy:

Reading helps us to imagine ourselves as part of the story. When we experience the lives of the characters in the stories we’re reading, we can identify with how they are feeling. Children can gain a greater understanding of their own emotion and that of others, which improves their social development.

Books transport us to other worlds:

Whether it’s an alternative world, another country, or a different time, a book gives children the ability to learn about people, places, events, and behaviours. This knowledge helps them gain a deeper understanding of the world, the people around them, and cultures that are different from their own.

Books create emotional bonds:

Reading with children on a regular basis can develop a strong relationship between parent and child. This habit can also foster feelings of love and reassurance which is key for nurturing, and an opportunity for quality time for the kids to look forward to.

Books nourish children’s imaginations:

Picturing characters in books and visualising their settings can lead to greater creativity in children. It’s the best way to build up and expand their knowledge. The brain is a muscle, and the more reading takes place, the more the muscle strengthens and develops. Reading encourages children to exercise their minds.

Reading is a powerful and rewarding activity that has numerous benefits and needs to be something all parents and teachers encourage in their homes and classrooms.