The warmth of a parent or caregiver holding a very young child and reading with him or her gives the child the sense of self importance (that he or she has all of the attention) and inclusion (that someone is sitting and spending time with him or her) that can't be obtained with an electronic device and an e-book. Although there are many benefits to the computer skills gained by navigating e-books, an electronic tablet is still an inanimate object and not a person who can respond warmly. Computers are a fact of life and very valuable but they will come soon enough in a child's life. The experience of reading a physical book cannot be replaced. Children like to turn the pages, go back and forth, look at things over again, etc. and, although it can be done somewhat with an e-book, it's easier to do with a physical book. And they can accumulate a library on their shelves of their favorite books to go back to over and over again.
When you take time to read to children you show them that reading is important and they will want to copy you. Children are great imitators and they will pick up on what you do; the more you love to read, the more they will value reading as well. They will want to master reading themselves and, as they mature into "first readers" and read out loud, they will develop proper grammar, spelling, pronunciation and speaking skills and, most important, self confidence in communication.
Books teach! Reading can open up new worlds and introduce children to people and places outside of their immediate world. The world of our grandparents was, for the most part, their immediate surroundings. Now with worldwide media and the internet, our children's world is the whole globe. Children can learn about other people, animals and environments around the world as in my book "A Birthday Party for Mother Earth", inspired by my granddaughter Zoe (shown above). When she was five years old she wanted to have a birthday party for Mother Earth because, as Zoe said, "Mother Earth is watching us take care of her world; we need to thank her." The book is about the diversity of Mother Earth. Through books, children can learn to share in the "global village".
As children grow up, a love of reading will help them throughout life. Not only does reading prepare children for communicating in life, but carefully chosen books can also help them to be good global citizens; to learn to be empathetic to others, and to be kind to animals and to the natural world we live in and should appreciate.
But, reading is not only informative; it is also fun and enjoyable as it introduces children to new thoughts and experiences and, through reading, releases their imaginations and creativity to soar. Let's go read a good book!