Children’s vocabulary develops
A child’s language development begins in the womb during pregnancy and continues until adulthood. In young children under school age, language development, the expansion of vocabulary and, in time, the acquisition of literacy are closely related to the time spent rhyming and reading with parents. It is noteworthy that vocabulary begins to develop when the child is not yet able to speak: The vocabulary of a 1-year-old can range from ten to a hundred words. Stories read aloud to a small child and time spent rhyming are great tools for improving the child’s vocabulary, language development and perception. If a child has been read to a lot, their language skills at preschool age may be up to eight months ahead of those whom have not been read to. Furthermore, reading develops a child’s imagination, empathy, concentration and ability to calm down.
Togetherness and closeness
For young children under the age of 1, reading is a form of interaction with their parents: rhymes and poems are suitable for activities from playing and bathing to going to sleep, and children can start looking at pictures of everyday activities, for example, on thick cardboard books. Thus, reading with a small child focuses on togetherness and closeness, and being in the parent’s arms relaxes the child. During early childhood (1–6 years), picture books and fairy tales offer a world of adventures and fun mishaps, but books also help deal with many things: emotions, daily chores, going to bed or difficult topics like divorce, death, new siblings or loneliness. Especially on difficult topics, stories in books can help a child deal with e.g. the death of a grandparent in a way that is appropriate for the child’s level of development.
By no means does settling down to read together need to end when the child learns to read for themselves. Instead, reading to a child is worthwhile for as long as the child wants to listen. We in Pirkkala encourage continuous, joint reading activities for every family with children from before school age to the end of comprehensive school. We want to support the language development and literacy of children under school age with e.g. the Kirjatti family reading diploma and comprehensive cooperation with various operators in the municipality, such as early childhood education and culture. The library offers its services to schoolchildren and young people especially through a cooperation agreement between the school and the library with material tips, library visits and reading diplomas for children and young people.