It’s National Book Week and parents all over Australia are pulling together costumes for their kids. Some are relishing the opportunity to be creative, others are a bit dark at chalkies for bringing this curse down upon them. On behalf of my teacher people….thank you parents. We know it’s an inconvenience, but it is important. Kids need to see reading as fun. If a funny, misshapen donkey costume is going to achieve that. Well then, bring on the costumes.

We all know that reading is the bee’s knees when it comes to education. It is great for:

  • Increasing vocabulary
  • Mastery of language
  • Increasing creativity
  • Developing imagination
  • Providing knowledge
  • Teaching grammar and spelling
  • Entertainment
  • Relaxation
  • Communication skills

That’s all obvious, but my favourite, less obvious reasons for reading are that:

Reading creates empathy
When a child reads they see through the eyes of others. They understand why people who are different from them might behave differently. There is something unique about that. There is no other medium where we can spend hours immersed in another person’s thoughts and experiences. Surely that has to make the world a better place. If our children are empathetic they are likely to be more understanding, compassionate and caring adults.

Reading teaches concentration and discipline
We live in a sound-bite world. Television and internet entertainment assumes you have the concentration of a goldfish. We are fed all our information in tiny chunks. It is little wonder that kids don’t develop an extended concentration span or discipline. Books, particularly novels, demand these skills.

Reading is great for well-being
Reading is very calming. If you are reading you are still but you are engaged. Your mind is soaring in someone else’s world, no room for anxiety. Reading can also be a very cathartic experience. It’s great for processing emotion. Finally, reading is a solo activity. No child can feel lonely or left out when they are reading. It is solely and deliciously for them alone.

So, while you are struggling with making that witch’s hat or finding the exact right Harry Potter glasses, remember that it is for the very best of reasons. That misshapen donkey’s head is a testament to your support of a very noble cause.


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Linda Stade has worked in various teaching and management roles in education for twenty-five years. She has worked in government and private schools, country and city, single-sex and co-ed. Currently, she is the Research Officer at Santa Maria College, Western Australia.