‘I think it is important for children to read different things to find out about their emotions and other people’s emotions. it is an enormous source of education and culture.’ – Quentin Blake
I previously wrote about how I reconnected with my inner child; whilst doing this I recollected some of my favourite children’s literature and sought them out at the library, I have a stack of Quentin Blake (who inspired this blog with his famous quote, see above), Roald Dahl, Rudyard Kipling and Lewis Carrol to name a few. It was really interesting re-reading and interpreting the stories as an adult, I certainly picked up on some of the veiled humour (and even the darkness) but as a child I wondered what emotions were provoked in me – other than happiness (and sometimes fear from said darkness!) I can’t really remember but I’m sure they helped shape me in some way.
Reading to our children and giving them the tools to read is crucial to their cognitive skills. I’m not a professional on the matter of child development but I strongly believe that reading is one of the fundamental tools in enabling them how to learn and express themselves. These little people are blank canvases and as parents, teachers, care providers and last but not least, children’s authors, we have a duty to help nurture these seeds with knowledge. Encouraging them to develop their own personalities, to discover emotions and how we respond to them, giving them values and being socially aware. All of these skills are on some degree taught in children’s literature, there is always a moral to the story, teaching the child values that they can carry into adulthood.
Even in picture books, early learners are able to stimulate their minds by creating their own story (or how they interpret it) by simple visuals and then conversing with their care provider which then encourages language development. This early cognitive development helps children process information, holding their attention spans and creating memories. This gives them the building blocks for progressive learning, which I believe is a gentle and condusive way of teaching our children (but that’s just my personal opinion, I am no child psychologist!).
Of course, once we have developed these early cognitive skills we take this forward in adult hood. Are we still learning? Of course! Seeking out all kinds of literature as an adult is still just as important, I still need mental stimulation whether that is through a scholarly article, self-help book or a novel. The latter being my favourite to escape the reality of life but even then on some level I sometimes relate to a character and perhaps learn how to manage emotions/a situation. Literature never ceases to amaze and inspire me, it is an abundant source of knowledge which should never be underestimated.
Reading is so therapeutic too, lets not forget that!