This Is Why Reading To Your Child Is So Important

This Is Why Reading To Your Child Is So Important

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One of the nicest parts of parenting is story time at the end of the day.  You get to sit down with your little sweetie, pajamaed on your knee, both of you ready to enter a new world together through reading.

Saturday 8th September marks International Literacy Day – a great reminder of the importance of books in our lives and in our children’s lives.  And a day where we can appreciate our ability to read in the first place, a gift denied to so many, through circumstance or no fault of their own. However, before you can shout ‘Mother Goose’ – it can be a minefield of issues. Here are four of them for starters!

1. Once Upon a Time?

This can be one of the challenges of reading to children – giving it the time.  I grew up in a family of seven and I remember my mother ‘reading the pictures’ in our picture books – at times she bypassed the words altogether. Research tells you that this is still very much reading to children as they are hearing words. Even five minutes a day can make all the difference.  It is a lovely time to connect with your child!

2. I do not like green eggs and ham!

Now, this can be a massive pain in the pumpkin carriage – that situation when your child absolutely ADORES a book that you hate reading! Personally, I am not crazy about Dr. Seuss, but my daughter loved those books. My boys went through a phase of a book entitled Cows in The Kitchen – it’s basically plotless and rhyming (the children’s book equivalent of Twin Peaks or something!! Just kind of weird!). I had months of torture reading it!

At times it’s good to remind ourselves that it is for their benefit and entertainment – not ours. Let them choose. Soon they will be in the land of nod and you can go back to Downton Abbey boxsets or whatever floats your boat.

3. What if Cinderella was black?   

Something that was brought to my attention recently – what if Cinderella was black? Or if Harry Potter was a little boy from say, New Delhi? Would it make a difference to the story? There is a serious lack of ethnic minorities/people from difference races and colour reflected in stories – according to recent literacy research in the UK. Hoping this will change so our kids get to read about other worlds and other experiences.

Hey – we have a Taoiseach who is half Indian – and a more diverse society – isn’t it time for it?

4. So many distractions!

These days, there are so many things to compete with books – iPad games, busy lives – you name it. But to quote the great Roald Dahl:

‘Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.’



My Top 5 up to Age Five!

  • Mr. Topsy Turvy – the best of the Mr. Men books for me. Great for pre-writing skills as he mixes up sentences in the funny way. But any Mr. Men book will do.
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers
  • Tyrannosaurus Drip – Not a huge Gruffalo fan, but love this Julia Donaldson one – it is basically a new version of the Ugly Duckling!
  • The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers (again!)
  • George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl


My Top 5 up to Age Ten!

  • The Dogman Books by Dav Pilkey – graphic novels/comic books from Captain Underpants author. Addictive to the six or seven-year-old boy
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid – excellent for the kid who finds it hard to engage with books.
  • Wonder by R. Palacio – brilliant for making kids more empathetic to other kids
  • Horrible Histories Series – wonderfully dip-in-and-outty!
  • A Place called Perfect by Helena Duggan
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events Series – dark, hilarious and addictive if your kids like them!


What are your favourites? Do tell!  As Dr. Seuss might say:

I want to know before you blink,

So please sit down and have a think,

Share your books you feel were best,

Let The M Word know and we’ll do the rest!





Fionnaigh O'Connor
Fionnaigh O'Connor
Galway girl, adopted Dubliner, online magazine contributor, literacy teacher, mother of one darling, sporty daughter and identical boys who are not at all creepy in The Shining sort of way.