Rosemary Chesney, Campus Carrier arts and living editor

One of my earliest memories is laying on the hammock in my backyard listening to my mom reading the story of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia. I remember being mesmerized and drawn into the magical world of talking lions, sword fights and evil witches. It was there that my love for reading began, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized what an amazing gift my mom gave me by reading to me at a young age. 

After listening to her tell fascinating stories for years, I became eager and quick to learn how to read myself. Soon I became obsessed with reading and spent countless hours exploring history with the Magic Tree House series, learning about Greek mythology from the Percy Jackson series, discovering magic in the Harry Potter series and so many other books. In the recent past, however, I was writing a speech for a class and came upon some research explaining that all parents should make it a priority to read to their children at a young age because it is crucial to their academic success and creative development.

Early reading is vital to a child’s brain development, and therefore spurs them ahead academically for the rest of their school careers. According to Northfield Hospital and Clinics in 2019, 90% of brain development occurs between birth and the age of five. The hospital explained that regularly reading to a child triggers neurons in their brain which builds stronger pathways improving language, literacy and math skills. 

What are the implications of this? Essentially, the kids that start ahead will stay ahead. On the flip side, the kids that start behind usually stay behind. According to the in 2019, children who were behind in reading levels in kindergarten form the largest group of high school dropouts and have only a 12% percent chance of attending a four-year college. After discovering this, I became extra grateful for the time my mom spent reading Narnia to me.

Reading at a young age not only improves academic skills but also creativity and empathetic ability. According to the in 2021, reading exercises one’s capacity for imagination, innovation and creativity. In fact, Elon Musk, the CEO and co-founder of Tesla, Falcon Rocket, Paypal and Hyperloop, has said that he reads up to 10 hours of science fiction a day. 

Reading, and being read to, also improves one’s ability to empathize and put themselves in someone else’s shoes. The same psychological processes used to navigate fiction are the ones used to navigate real relationships, according to an article from The Guardian in 2018. By reading from Harry Potter’s point of view, for example, kids learn what it feels like to be an outcast or bullied by one’s family.  

All this to say, that my mom knew what she was doing when she refused to get cable and instead read novels to my brothers and I as toddlers. Because my mom fostered my love for reading, I developed a love for writing and wrote a short novel in middle school, many short stories, joined my high school newspaper and ultimately became a Communications major. Without that early introduction to reading, I don’t know what my life would look like today. Now, I know that if I have children someday, I’m going to follow my mom’s lead, as should all parents, sit my toddlers down, open The Chronicles of Narnia and read it to them.

Posted by Campus Carrier

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