The gifts that keep on giving Children’s books to add to their wishlists
WITH Christmas just around the corner, now is the ideal time as a parent or extended family member to free yourself of any excuses you may harbour, to not just give from your heart this festive season, but equally from your head as well.
And there is no better way to lovingly combine these two inner forces in the singular outer gesture of a gift, than to give in the form of a book.
One morsel of research alone that drives home why we should consciously veer down this line of giving this Christmas (or at any time of the year for that matter), comes from the University of California Berkeley, which has found: ‘Children’s books expose kids to 50 per cent more words than prime-time TV.’
So in one rather fortuitous, albeit fabulous and no less fell swoop, by giving a child books, you can double your child’s exposure to words and ways of thinking that might just aid that child’s development in a manner which doesn’t restrict them or keep them trapped in a virtual communicative quagmire their entire life. Other research suggests that reading aloud is the single most important activity to language development, not to mention how stronger levels of early reading may lead to higher intelligence later in life, as well as build motivation, curiosity and memory.
Interestingly, in some parts of the world, such an early focus and understanding of the importance of reading appears to be accepted and viewed as more than self-evident.
The first female winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature way back in 1909 for example, was a former teacher called Selma Lagerlof, and she rose to eminence primarily for her children’s stories that doubled as direct learning aids.
Her most famous novel called ‘The Wonderful Adventures of Nils’ (about a boy who travels across Sweden on the back of a goose, was intended to help children with their geography and history) and it is still revered to this day; an image of Nils riding a goose even appears on the national Swedish 20 Kronor banknote.
As such, if you were thinking of giving the ideal gift of a classic book to that special child in your life, the BBC listed a few years ago their top 10 all-time children’s works. Coming in at number one was ‘Charlotte’s Web’, followed by ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, then ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ and rounding out the top four was ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.
My personal favourite from the BBC’s list was their number six, ‘The Little Prince’ by the WWII fighter pilot, Saint-Exupery (it was also actor James Dean’s favourite as well apparently), and how can you go past the classic passage in it for what is possibly the most memorable line in all of children’s literature: ‘All grown-ups were once children, but only few of them remember it.’