Did you know reading with your little ones can help them self-regulate their emotions and help with child development? We’ve teamed up with medical doctor and counsellor, Julia B. Grantham, also the author of a best selling children’s book, ‘A Mole Like No Other’. Here we give her tips on how reading can help your child understand and express their emotions.
1. Reading with your child is a fantastic way to help them to learn social skills. Even toddlers and pre-schoolers can learn socially acceptable – and unacceptable – behaviours through reading books. Books offer the ideal opportunity to discuss human behaviour – such as how a character is feeling – perhaps the character in the book is helping out a friend and being thoughful; or feeling jealous, scared, tired or hungry. Reading with your child is a great parenting tool.
2. By using subtle prompting and discussions, parents and carers can use reading time as a great way to validate this behaviour– eg, ‘Jenny is looking angry in the book, look how her mouth is turned down and her eyes look sad’. Children can learn to recognise these feelings in themselves and other people. In turn, parents and carers can continue this social coaching in day-to-day situations by pointing out and naming emotions when they happen, for example making little ones aware when they are frustrated, jealous or happy. Similarly, grown ups can mirror this too, eg, ‘Mummy is putting her shoes away in the shoe box, that is very helpful’, this helps to model the desired behaviour. An extension of this is not only to name and point out that emotion but to learn about coping mechanisms, and reading books offers a perfect chance to do this. If a character is feeling left out or shy, you could discuss what you could do to help this character.
3. Talking about emotions through the book’s characters helps youngsters learn to recognise their feelings, and become aware of changes in their mood or body language and then in turn regulate their emotions. This can lead to building self-confidence and independence in future, all brilliant for your child’s development. Together you can watch out for changes in facial expressions, tone of voice, body language and point these out to your child. Even if a character in a book does not behave properly, or is a bad character, this still offers a great chance to discuss what is socially acceptable.
4. There are many life lessons within children’s books. From dealing with new siblings, parent separation, feeling lost or scared or starting a new school. Children learn about a myraid of emotions through books and offers the perfect opportunity to validate feelings and discuss them.
My cuddly character, Moley, is very keen to be heard, to be noticed, and he makes some mistakes trying to achieve it, mainly because he is too eager to prove himself. But he is a very helpful mole, who is always the first to rush to help his friends, if they are in trouble. He gradually learns the value of teamwork, learns to rely upon his friends and believe in himself too. He actually learns a lot of important lessons in the course of the story.
5. Becoming familiar with a book – or audiobook – by reading or listening to the same book multiple times helps give your younger children the opportunity to develop a reading habit as well as building confidence, which is an important part of social and emotional development. ‘A Mole Like No Other’ is written with the aim that it can be read to younger children and to be read independently by older children, as they become familiar to the story and characters.
About Julia B. Grantham – author of ‘A Mole Like No Other’
Julia B. Grantham lives in the South of England with her husband, son, two cats, Moley, Owlie and all the other toys that make their appearance in this book; with ducks and pigeons in the garden, chickens across the road, as well as rabbits, squirrels, pheasants and deer, who visit often and hope also to make it into a book one day soon.
Julia is a medical doctor and a training consultant, but books are her passion. She is a Harry Potter fanatic, an Ambassador for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, a writer and illustrator of Jane Austen-inspired travel fiction, and now – an author of her first book for children.
A Mole Like No Other is currently free with Kindle Unlimited, or can be purchased for the limited offer of £4.99 in paperback, from Amazon. The book is also launching as an audiobook, from April 15th 2021.