Even though we are lucky to live on a beautiful island where our children can run freely and safely, we are not immune to the lure of TVs and tablets. Ideally it would be nice to say to our family and friends overseas that our children are wild bush kids who have no idea what Minecraft or Facebook is, but let’s be honest. Putting on the TV is a great way to keep the kids quiet and entertained and tablets can be a fun way to learn.

We also can’t deny that we are now living in a world where technology and the Internet is second nature. Communication and learning about new information is almost entirely done online. It’s just a matter of moderating and monitoring your child’s use before they figure it out themselves.

That’s why there is something magical about reading books. It’s not instantaneous. It’s not a gadget that’s easily consumed. Thought needs to be produced to understand how the rest of the book unfolds. Here are five reasons why you should read with your child.

1. Reading promotes bonding with your child

Reading is a great way to spend time with your child as the day unwinds. Cuddling up with a book recaptures the sweet time you enjoyed with them during infancy. It’s a nurturing activity that deepens your relationship as you are focusing entirely on them. You can’t be on your phone or cook and read, can you?

2. It’s a great way to honour and discover your child’s individuality

When you read to your child, you discover what they’re interested in and what they like or don’t like. Books open up communication and allow you to broach subjects that you usually wouldn’t if it weren’t for the story. You will learn about how they perceive the storyline and how they would feel if it happened to them and how they would deal with it. 

CPS Library after Cyclone Pam

CPS library books laying out to dry after Cyclone Pam 2015

3. Reading helps prepare your child for academic excellence

Books boost imagination and creativity. When you read to your child, their vocabulary expands and they have better comprehension skills. By exposing them to a range of content, your child will be able to master rich and varied language, which is the key to knowledge. If they know how to string sentences together, then it’s easier for them to grasp other subjects such as maths and science.

4. It strengthens their concentration and discipline

Unlike TV where children just sit and consume, reading a book requires a child to produce thoughts, apply logic, grasp concepts and utilize judgement. It encourages them to recognize cause and effect and relate the storyline to their own life. As they get older, they will learn to foster self discipline to sit and finish the book. By focusing on a book, their attention span will lengthen and their memory retention is better, all of which is beneficial for your child academically.

5. It teaches them about history and their surroundings

Reading books to your child exposes them to different ideas and cultures. This fosters empathy for others and deepens their knowledge about the world they live in. Books can also teach them about their native history and language. You can find excellent children’s books in Bislama that tell custom stories such as Nabanga Pikinini, adapated by Pauline Grindley, but if you don’t have the money for it, you can take them from the library. By reading in Bislama your children will be empowered to speak it too.

Port Vila Public Library is located in the middle of town, next to the pharmacy. It’s open Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm and on Saturdays from 9am – 12pm. Adult membership is 1000vt per year/100vt per month. Children membership is 500vt per year/50vt per month. Call 22721 for more information.