Q We have eight-year-old twin boys who are in the 3rd grade. My husband works in the software technology field and thinks books and the need for dictionaries are obsolete. I disagree and make sure each of the boys has a set of their favorite books. I still read to the kids at night and other times. What else can I do to help the boys appreciate books and increase their reading and vocabulary skills? Is there anything I can do or say to convince my husband that children need books, need to be checking books out at the school library and need to learn to use the dictionary?
A I have the following suggestions for you regarding your question about helping your husband understand a need for books:
- Find evidence for your husband that reading books is helpful, not only for your children but for him as well. A 2021 study by Review Magazine found that reading may help lower the risk of dementia. Talk to him about how reading before bed improves sleep, as it promotes relaxation. Reading improves concentration, the ability to focus and literacy. In addition, reading decreases stress. Reading to children helps them not only develop their language skills but also their listening skills. Reading can affect our overall mental health.
A National Health and Retirement study consisting of 3,635 participants indicated that book readers live longer than non-book readers by approximately 23 months.
A study reported in the Journal of Multidisciplinary Research found that students who read for pleasure had higher scores in a variety of subject areas compared to students who did not read for pleasure. Those who read had greater success in school.
- Ask your pediatrician if he or she could talk to your husband about the importance of books and reading.
- Remind your husband that there are times when a person can’t access the internet which presents a great opportunity to turn to a book or dictionary. Sometimes you can’t find the spelling of a word online, and it’s easier to find it in the dictionary.
You asked how you could help your boys appreciate books and increase their reading and vocabulary skills. One idea is to take them to the library and let them pick out their own books. You could encourage them to read to their pets. Some of the animal shelters in Austin invite children to read to the dogs and cats. You can have them read to you or take turns reading every other page. Kids can also read to far away family members over Facetime.
We can continue to benefit from books and dictionaries as well as technology. Don’t throw away the books and close the libraries yet.
Betty Richardson, PhD, RN, CS, LPC, LMFT, is an Austin-based psychotherapist.