Raising a Bookworm

dsc001782One of my most favorite teaching tools are storybooks. I’m not talking about teaching my preschoolers only here, but I have used many a storybook in my undergraduate classes, much to the chagrin of my students. However, as I’d go through the stories, I’d catch them with the same dreamy and awed expressions my toddlers have when they listen to stories. At the end of the story, the once complex topic, such as neuroanatomy, becomes as simple as a kid’s story.

Why do I use storybooks?

Simply because they’re a fun way to learn. Imagine sitting through a lecture about brain functions and its role in human behavior. No matter how into the topic you are, you’d find yourself fidgeting in a few minutes, right? What more for a little child! Of all the things kids have to learn, reading and writing are perhaps the most challenging to teach. While some kids pick it up fairly easily, some encounter difficulties along the way. With storybooks, teachers and parents help make the learning more fun.

Other than making learning fun, here are some benefits I see in reading stories to children (and adults alike):

1. Storybooks foster cognitive development. In fact, this is strongly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) because it helps stimulate brain and language development. Some have even suggested that reading to an infant, whether this be a storybook or the newspaper increase activity in the brain.

2. It teaches basic reading and writing skills. Although they may not be doing the reading on their own per se, storybooks show children that text is written from left to right, that letters make sounds that when put together make words that mean something. The pictures in these books make abstract ideas real and concrete to them.

3. Reading helps build vocabulary and gives the reader a bigger worldview. In essence, storybooks take us to places we cannot be or have not been in. Books allow us to explore cultures and ideas while in the comfort of our own homes. We also learn how words are used and what they mean. I remember in one of my toddlers classes, one of the kids would not stop talking about a platypus, an animal which is not well-known in the Philippines. But because of our story, she learned all about it.

4. Books teach children the fine art of loving reading. When I first started teaching, my mentor said it was not as important for me to teach phonetic learning over helping a child become really literate. She said what would the kids do with knowing how to read complicated words when these words meant nothing at all to them. For me, giving children storybooks makes them learn how to really read, and not just decode words. Albeit the phonetic approach to teaching reading is a basic, fundamental skill to be mastered, it seems to me that one of the most effective ways to teach a child to read is through reading to him or her regularly.

5. Reading to children help build bonds between the parent and child. Some experts would even suggest that reading out loud to children help soothe and relax them. It also gives them a feeling of safety and security, which can later translate to more healthy emotional growth.

6. Books are character building. Yes, we can talk till we are blue in the face why it is important to share or be honest, but these don’t mean much to kids until these are made real to them.

To make teaching kids how to read even easier, The Accidental Teacher is hosting it’s first online contest! By simply sharing the title of your favorite story and what lessons can be learned from it, you can win a Php 300.00 Fullybooked Gift Certificate!

Contest Mechanics/Guidelines:

1. Post your answer in the comment box on or before midnight of April 30, 2009.

2.The contest is open to Philippine residents only. All book lovers and readers  are welcome to send comments but are limited to one per person only.  Only the first comment shall be considered for contestants with multiple comment entries. Unique contestants shall be identified through their IP address.

2. A winner will be randomly selected and will be notified by May 1, 2009.  Eligible comments is equivalent to one raffle entry.

3. You may earn extra entries by any of the following:  write a blog post about this contest with a link back to this post (equivalent to 2 entries) or plurkabout this contest (1 entry) and post in the comments section the blog entry/plurk url.

4. The winner will be contacted through the email address supplied in the comment form. The winners address will then be requested in order to make arrangements for claiming the prize. The winner will be given 3 days to respond to notification or he/she will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be selected.

5. For questions and inquiries about this contest please send email yapatoots@gmail.com

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