The Case for Children's Books

by Marissa Moldoch

Do you have a favorite children’s book? From Winnie-the-Pooh and Charlotte’s Web, to The Chronicles of Narnia and Anne of Green Gables, children’s stories introduce incredible characters and vivid settings. Who wouldn’t want to take a leisurely stroll through the Hundred Acre Wood, or set off on a spectacular adventure with Aslan?

While these stories provide entertainment, they also help children become interested in reading and studying. According to EduBirdie, "Children with greater access to books and other print materials express more enjoyment of books, reading, and academics." Although elementary-aged children can read alone, they benefit greatly from sharing the experience with their parents. "The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.

Anvi Bavishi, Martin D. Slade, and Becca R. Levy suggest that “books can promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence.” Similarly, Steven Zauderer says that “Reading can boost emotional development . . . by 50% to 100%.” Clearly, the practice of reading does more than build one’s vocabulary and critical thinking abilities. Connecting with characters and encountering different scenarios helps children become well-rounded individuals, which is one of the greater aims of Classical Education.

Musical Training

Classical Education is about more than educating students — it’s about nurturing the whole person. In The Liberal Arts Tradition, Kevin Clark, DLS, and Ravi Scott Jain write, “Classical education seeks . . . to build upon a robust poetic and moral education.” To accomplish that goal, students partake in musical training, which “includes what we now call music, but also poetry, drama, the fine arts, and literature.” The ancients emphasized musical training because they found that “the aesthetic, affective, and emotional training of music [is] foundational to the acquisition of both the moral and the intellectual virtues.” 

Acclaimed author C.S. Lewis also advocated for musical education in The Abolition of Man. Clark and Jain explain that “[f]or Lewis, musical education is not window dressing for our educational program; it is essential and foundational. Without a well-stocked moral imagination, without trained sentiment, without a heart, there is no human flourishing." As classically educated students explore a wealth of stories, they transform into well-read, well-rounded individuals with a strong moral compass.

How Can We Help?

As creators, we have a responsibility to write and illustrate books that are not only engaging and enjoyable, but also inspirational and educational for children during their formative years. Even the most obscure passage could impress upon them a lesson or an idea that could aid them later in life. 

Author Roald Dahl — who penned Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — went to great lengths to make his stories memorable. He once said, “I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”

While it is a joy to read to children, we hope that one day, they will become avid readers themselves, excitedly buzzing about the titles they’ve discovered on their own. To see that vision come to fruition, we must carefully plant the seeds and nurture their curiosity as Dahl suggested.

Ferst Readers concurs, stating, “When adults read to children, discussing story content, asking open-ended questions about story events, explaining the meaning of words, and pointing out features of print, they promote increased language development, comprehension of story content, knowledge of story structure, and a better understanding of language — all of which lead to literacy success.

To equip students with these necessary skills, we created the incremental Reasoning and Reading series. Perfect for grades 3-8, each book teaches students how to recognize comparing and contrasting words, discriminate between good and vague definitions, understand inferences, and more! We hope that, upon completing the books, students will have a new passion for reading that will guide them as they grow.

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