In our blog post about the evolution of children’s stories across the world, we learned that humanity has understood the developmental benefits of storytelling since the beginning of written history. But what about the benefits for parents and parenting in general?
Those bedtime stories for kids aren’t just for kids! In addition to teaching kids reading comprehension and language skills, children’s stories can bring families closer together and ease some burdens for the parents themselves. Below, we outline 5 ways children’s stories help not just the child, but the parent as well.
1. Context for Real-Life Lessons
Let’s say you just caught your child lying — a teachable moment to be sure. You can explain to them that it’s wrong, even explain why it’s wrong, but that doesn’t guarantee they understand. To help comprehension, you could tell them the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, for example — this story graphically demonstrates the consequences of lying, through the lens of a young character your child can closely identify with.
Stories help secure these lessons in the child’s mind, with relevant context and more memorable “anchors.” They are the perfect companion or complement to real-life lessons, adding a new angle to help children develop a fuller understanding of the issue. As adults, we do this as well — think of how many times a novel, film, or song has impacted your life.
2. Family Stories Strengthen Familial Identity
Each family has their own culture, and it’s not always passed down automatically. Telling your children stories about your own life, your own childhood, or other family members helps build an internal identity around your family — they learn both what it means to be part of this family, and develop a sense of what makes their family different from others.
Moreover, you can carry on story-telling traditions your own parents used for you. Activities like reading stories aloud to children with funny voices, or listening to them as they read to you, are family activities and contribute as much to family culture as they do to kids reading comprehension.
3. Pass on Specific Values
There’s no shortage of stories for kids. Whatever popular value you can think of, it’s likely the subject of a story book for kids. That lets you selectively use stories to help your child’s development, based on their specific needs. For example, if your child has anger or tantrum issues, they may feel a connection to Where the Wild Things Are. If your tween is having trouble with puberty, a Judy Blume novel might make them feel better.
This can also further establish familial identity as well. Reading your own favorite childhood book to your kid may have the same effect on them as it did on you.
4. Stress Relief
Of all the things you do with you kids, reading and telling stories is one of the least stressful. It’s often seen as entertainment, or even a reward, despite the educational benefits. And that goes double for you, often a welcome change of pace from the more stressful challenges of parenting.
Encouraging kids reading, online or off, helps them associate books with leisure, a connection that will have nothing but positive ramifications throughout the rest of their life. Not only will they continue reading in their free time, they’ll also be more comfortable with non-recreational reading for school and later work.
5. Parent-Child Bonding
Last but not least, reading with your child forges stronger bonds together. For one thing, they become accustomed to your voice, touch, or mere presence, especially crucial for infants even before they can speak. But on top of that, any time spent together helps build bonds, in particular pleasant and fun activities like story time.
There’s also the pleasure of watching your child learn and grow on their own. It’s one thing to notice that your kids reading comprehension has improved, but it’s another to watch it happen, step by step, and encourage that development in the right direction.
Conclusion: The Right Story Books for Kids
The quality and effect of story time can depend on the story itself, so choose wisely. As we mentioned above, you can pick-and-choose stories with the values and morals most relevant to your child — this not only affects what lessons they learn, but also how much enjoyment that get out of the activities. If your kids are failing to “fall in love” with any existing stories, try one of our personalized children’s book, which put your child’s name and likeness directly into the story.