By in Books

Don’t Underestimate the Intelligence of a Child Who Reads

A friend posted a question on Facebook for Throwback Thursday: "Readers - are there books you read in childhood which you've reread in adulthood that took on a whole different meaning?" As a voracious reader since childhood, this query was right up my alley, and I answered:

I read the Madeleine L'Engle books ( A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, etc) in third grade. They were wonderful--and sometimes creepy--fantasy. Upon rereading them as an adult, I was STUNNED that I had been able to comprehend that level of writing back then. I guess I was pretty good at grasping context, because the vocabulary was well above what I would give a little kid credit for absorbing. So, that kind of gave me a new perspective about what children can understand, as well a renewed appreciation for the psychological and scientific aspects of the stories themselves.

I realized that constant reading gave me a giant learning advantage as a child, and I would submit that it might be the single most important thing that you can do for your child to give him or her not only a rich inner life of wonder and imagination, but an intellectual advantage. Start by reading to your young children in order to build a love of books. Don’t wait for them to get into school to learn their ABCs--you can easily teach them that. And you don’t have to invest much more than just your time: My mom took me to the library once a week, and I routinely plundered the shelves.

Give your kid the best possible head start on intellectual success by getting books into the home--computer literacy is a good and necessary technical skill, but reading develops creativity and comprehension, and who couldn’t benefit from that?

Image Credit » by LouAnna

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valmnz wrote on April 3, 2015, 1:28 AM

i agree with you. As a teacher I've read many books to kids that I'd read as a child and been surprised about their depth of understanding. One that i haven't read for a long time is a Wrinkle in Time, but I've always loved that book. There was a question about it in the Kids lit Quiz I attended the other day.

MegL wrote on April 3, 2015, 1:29 AM

I would agree. Get them reading and help them enjoy it. It is one of the greatest gifts you could give.

allen0187 wrote on April 3, 2015, 1:45 AM

100% agree with what you wrote here. Reading is one of the best gifts a parent can give his child. One of my earliest childhood memories was sitting on my mother's lap and being taught how to read.

morilla wrote on April 3, 2015, 2:17 AM

You tend to write and speak as you read and the quality found in most books (at least the 'older' ones) is far above much of what you find on the Internet today. The written word is more 'permanent' than speech and is responsible for carrying forth much of the knowledge from previous generations. Speaking of which, previous generations used to have an higher standard and value of education and learning WITHOUT computers and with only books. I wonder if part of the correlation might have to do with an increasingly reliance on video, computers, and other non-reading or truncated reading materials.

bestwriter wrote on April 3, 2015, 2:25 AM

As kids we were frequent visitors to the library but must admit with so much lined up for me now I do not find the time but must say that reading I did in my childhood has stood me in good stead.

scheng1 wrote on April 3, 2015, 5:47 AM

That's why Asian parents value education. They want their children to excel.

AliCanary wrote on April 3, 2015, 7:30 AM

I'm pretty sure I have the paperback of A Swiftly Tilting Planet around the house, somewhere--I should give it another read.

AliCanary wrote on April 3, 2015, 7:35 AM

I will say that it probably ruined my eyesight, but I still would never give it up!

AliCanary wrote on April 3, 2015, 7:43 AM

My dad would sit at my bedside and read to me from a big book of children's stories when I was sick in bed with a cool washcloth over my forehead to ease a fever. He would change the washcloth when it got too warm. Pretty great dad, huh?

MegL wrote on April 3, 2015, 7:45 AM

ruined my eyesight too, reading under the covers or behind the curtains in the twilight, after I was supposed to be asleep!

AliCanary wrote on April 3, 2015, 7:55 AM

It's true--with text messaging and short status posts on social media, we are nowadays reading and writing as we speak, instead, and it's a bit too casual, for most people!

AliCanary wrote on April 3, 2015, 7:57 AM

I agree--with my various activities on the internet, I read much less than I did, although I write far more.

AliCanary wrote on April 3, 2015, 8:05 AM

I think all parents value education, but sometimes it's hard to provide.

scheng1 wrote on April 3, 2015, 8:07 AM

Asian parents are extreme when it comes to education. That's why Asian migrant kids excel in school.

Kasman wrote on April 3, 2015, 8:43 AM

Apparently, sales of paper books are in decline and sales of e-books are on the rise. I have always preferred real books but that is maybe a hangover from my childhood when e-books didn't exist. 'Sticking your nose in a Kindle' doesn't have the same ring to it that 'sticking your nose in a book' but as long as kids are sticking their noses into one or the other that's better than not doing so.

AliCanary wrote on April 3, 2015, 8:50 AM

I strongly agree--and it saves trees, too, although, like you, I like the tactile experience of reading an actual book. But whatever gets 'em reading is fine with me!

wolfgirl569 wrote on April 3, 2015, 9:36 AM

I too used to read a lot. It does make learning more fun and easy.

LeaPea2417 wrote on April 3, 2015, 12:10 PM

When I was a child, I read the Little House On The Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read them again as an adult. That is a great series. I agree children should be encouraged to read. I did that for my kids. I took them to the library many times.

CalmGemini wrote on April 3, 2015, 1:27 PM

I just started writing a post as to when and how I started reading books,when i saw this article by you. Almost all your posts are nice and relevant including this one.

Colibry21 wrote on April 6, 2015, 3:20 PM

Absolutely. Having worked with kids, and now having them, it always surprises how they can understand things we may not always think they might. It's impressive.

WritingLover wrote on May 16, 2015, 3:40 PM

I read a lot as a child and I believed it helped me a lot in terms of learning. I think all children should read while growing up and I will be encouraging my son to do the same.