A guest post about the importance of reading in the personality development of a child by Happier every chapter.
A child’s personality develops by continuous interaction with the environment around them, with development starting at birth and continuing throughout their lives. However, the first 5 years of the child’s life are considered to be the most important when it comes to their personal development and this determines how their personality will be throughout their childhood and into adulthood.
How does reading help?
Education supplies children with the tools and foundation stones for them to begin to develop as individuals. Their physical, mental and social environments are what shape them into the children that they are and it goes without saying that each child’s personality will be different, and this is what makes them unique. It is already known that a child who reads is likely to perform better at school.
In the UK, there seems to be a correlation between household wealth and academic success. The Reading Agency states that by the final year of compulsory schooling in England, the reading skills of children from disadvantaged backgrounds are on average almost three years behind those from the most affluent homes. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds, like all other children, are able to access a library in their school or local area. By taking home a book every week, could help the child not only start to perform better academically but also develop their personality and understand the world around them better.
That being said, The Reading Agency has given another important statistic that could help reassure parents who aren’t highly educated, or from a disadvantaged background: “reading for pleasure is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parent’s level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.”
Children who read are more likely to develop social sensitivity. This means that they can understand the feelings of people easier as it might be a situation that has been covered before in a book they have read. This also helps the child to understand situations from a different person’s point of view.
At Mbawa Books, we are passionate about promoting diversity in literature as unfortunately, that is something which is lacking enormously at the moment. We have Cameroonian heritage, which not many people know much about. Books can help children to understand different people’s lives and lives that are very much opposed to their own. This helps the reader to develop empathy as well as developing knowledge and understanding of scenarios that have never, and might never experience personally. We have a blog post that contains some diverse middle grade reads, that you can read here.
The world of literature can often help a child with their own decision making. They might have read about a certain situation in a book, and then when that situation becomes a real-life scenario for them, they might have a better grasp at tackling it independently. This decision making ability doesn’t need to be in life-or-death scenarios, but just with their day to day thought process such as ‘which t-shirt should I wear today?’.
Reading makes your child judgemental. Upon first reading that sentence, it might seem like a negative thing, however, it is fantastic for your child to have their own opinion instead of regurgitating the opinion of their family/friends to other people. Children who read non-fiction, as well as fiction, might also start to back up their opinions with fact, which not only then allows them to use their intelligence in situations, it also helps them stand up against those who are debating solely from their own opinion.
Reading enables your child to become a problem solver. The plot of most fiction books has a great dilemma in which the character must tackle and solve. By taking experiences that have been read and using them in real-world scenarios, it can help your child to overcome problems quickly and intelligently. They might come up with a solution to problems that no one else in their class has thought of, and this is because they are constantly relating problems and experiences not only to their own lives but to the lives of the characters whom they have found themselves immersed in.
Vocabulary and speech
Not only the above, but reading helps to improve the vocabulary and speech of a child. This isn’t something that directly relates to their personality in regards to the ‘character’ of a child but is something very important in regards to their development as they grow.
The Bottom Line
As we have discussed many times on our blog, there’s no negative side effect of reading. Reading is one of the most wonderful tools we have, and unfortunately due to the rise of technology and social media, many children are losing out.
Your child doesn’t need to have their head in a book 24 hours a day for reading to be able to shape their personality. Even just reading for an hour a day before bed, or after school, will help your child to deal with new experiences and see how challenging problems are tackled, from the comfort of their own home.
Fiction is often seen as being the type of writing that is just for fun, with non-fiction being where children learn the most. Yes, children can learn many facts and knowledge from non-fiction, but for their personalities to blossom they need to be reading fiction too.
We are Aiyven and Kirsten Mbawa. We are 12 and 13 years old and are published authors and kidrepreneurs in Northampton, England. Our books Land of the Nurogons and Sagas of Anya were both self-published in 2020 during the height of the first lockdown. We work alongside our small team at Mbawa Books to create our subscription box Happier Every Chapter which is a book-themed box aimed at 8-14-year-olds. Like we mentioned in the blog, we have Cameroonian heritage, with both our parents coming from Cameroon and so diversity in literature is something that we consider to be so important. Did you know that in children’s books, talking animals appear more often than people who are black and from ethnic minority backgrounds?! This is something we are striving to change.
Each month our box, Happier Every Chapter, contains 2 books (we aim for at least 1 book that is considered to be diverse), two short stories – one written by each of us, activity sheets and lots of goodies that relate to the theme for each month. We have different options available for people wanting to subscribe: a monthly rolling plan and then 3, 6 and 12-month plans. Those subscribing to our 6-month and 12-month plans get a bonus book and 50% off their first boxes!
We both obviously love writing and being published authors is fantastic, however, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to commit to writing a full novel – especially because we go to school and have various extracurricular activities. This is why we love to write short stories each month. They go straight into our subscription boxes for our subscribers to enjoy, but we also have them for sale if anyone would like to have a taste of our writing. We also find that our short stories go down a storm with children who don’t like reading and feel intimidated by the size of a full novel.