Reading unlocks so many things: it’s a low-cost source of entertainment, cultivates curiosity, and enhances imagination. It helps develop a more robust vocabulary. It opens your child’s world up for learning a wide variety of subjects, from history to science to foreign languages. It can help children be successful in academics and life.
The benefits of reading aren’t just intellectual, though. There are emotional perks, too. Here are some reading strategies to help your child become more emotionally intelligent, whether you have a kid who hates reading or can’t put the books down.
Reading helps you see someone’s world through another lens
One of the best parts about reading fiction is immersing oneself into an entirely different world, stepping into the shoes of the characters, and experiencing their lives with them.
Reading literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling, as noted in a study reported by Scientific American. This can be especially beneficial for helping children develop social awareness and understand others who are different from them. It can help them understand differing worldviews and perspectives.
Great writing also gives them insights into complex social relationships, which can be helpful when navigating social challenges throughout life.
Reading enhances self-awareness
In addition to increasing empathy, reading helps children gain better insights about themselves. As they read about characters experiencing challenges and adventures, they can see how characters respond and recognize the diverse set of feelings they might have. This helps them develop a broader vocabulary about feelings and emotions, making it easier to describe and categorize their own emotions.
So how can I help my child?
If you hope to improve your child’s reading level or enhance their emotional intelligence, we have a few recommendations for where to start. It takes time, but regular practice and patience can make a big difference in your child’s life.
1 – Ask them to describe feelings
Ask your child about the book they’re reading. Ask what the characters might be thinking or feeling, and help your child learn how to describe them. Help them expand their vocabulary and use mood meters (like on a scale of 1-10) to describe emotions such as sadness, happiness, fear, anger, and disgust.
2 – Choose stories they can relate to
An easy way to expand empathy is to start on common ground. Have your child choose and read books that have characters they can relate to. This will help them feel less alone in some of their own troubles and learn how to solve problems. Through reading, they’ll also find characters that maybe they can’t relate to, which is a great growth opportunity. Discuss these different characters and see what common traits they have.
3 – Find connections between the fictional world and the real world
Making connections between fiction and reality isn’t always obvious. This is a great time to teach consequences through example and ask your children about important principles. Here are a few questions you can ask:
- “If you were that character’s friend, how would you help them?”
- “Did this character act like anyone you know?”
- “Have you ever been in a situation where you felt the same way?”
- “What choices did this character make? What was the outcome?”’
- “What did this character think was important?”
4 – Discuss character growth
Point out how characters changed from the beginning of the story to the end. Help your child understand that it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions and learn how to channel some of those negative emotions in healthy ways. Help your child identify the healthy ways the book characters grew and show your child how they can apply the same ideas.
Reading can be a powerful and transformative experience. The benefits are countless. The emotional intelligence your child develops as a result of reading can help them navigate life independently and deal with challenges in healthy ways.
If you want to know how to help your child read more, look no further than Savvy. Our experienced coaches make learning to read delightful and engaging. We offer instruction for pre-k through sixth grade and hold sessions four days a week, 25 minutes daily. Take our free assessment to learn your child’s level and see how they can go from struggling to thriving.