Sunday 23 April was World Book Day, which for us in Australia amongst back to school and Anzac Day, is very easy to miss so Book Week in August is the time when we celebrate all things books. Really though everyday has the potential to be Book Day and if anything, it’s a good chance for us to remember the power of reading and the impact this can have on developing intellect.
If you’re after a good article outlining in full the arguments, I recommend taking the time to read this one. It argues the case that reading to your children is important but what is more important is reading with your children. The article refers to research that people who read fiction develop better intellectual empathy, and it goes on to explain how this differs from emotional empathy. “Intellectual empathy is the ability to perceive objectively how other people see and experience things - from a distance. Emotional objectivity is more about the ability to actually see and feel things the way others do.”
Another article I came across recently was suggesting that interactive fiction is great for develop critical thinking – or as this article, would suggest, developing intellectual empathy. (Interactive fiction is what most of us will remember as Choose-Your-Own-Adventure - and yes, they’ve made a bit of a comeback and we do have some in the Junior KIP.)
This article suggests that instead you read any book interactively with your child, stopping to ask them questions about how they would have reacted or responded, and in so doing, you’re helping them to build empathy, as well as critical thinking and decision making skills, which are just as valuable as they get older.
One could argue that this is what happens in many a book club. With children as they get older, family members reading the same book could be a similar way to achieve these goals. With the quality of YA Lit, there are a great range of books to choose from, as well as true classics, or for the younger children classics from more recent times, many of which are making a comeback, be it Famous Five, Enid Blyton or the ever-loved Roald Dahl.
If you are after some good book recommendations, remember to visit our Great Reads guide or else the World Book Day website has some great reading guides organised by age group or by favourite author – which are a great way to extend your reader onto a new author.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter so much how we read, but that we read. As an activity, it has countless benefits, for all ages.
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