By Kevin Christofora
It’s never too early to teach your children to be citizens of the world. While it’s important to have pride in their home— whether their local community, or their country— they should know that there’s a greater world out there, and that they are a part of it. That’s why parents should begin teaching, early, that we’re all citizens of that world, and that we have responsibilities to it as well as our responsibilities at home.
One way to connect to that great big world outside is through reading books. After all, anyone who loves to read knows that books help us discover entirely new worlds, both real and imagined. Encouraging reading in children is a great way for them to see the links between themselves and the characters, settings, and issues in the books they’re reading.
For children too young to read, it’s the responsibility of the adults around them to help. Reading to children is an important part of their development, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. Children’s books can give readers a main character who is a relatable peer, or one who is completely different from them— but either way, they’ll learn to empathize with that person and their experience. It’s so important for children to realize that people who seem very different on the surface can still have the same hopes, dreams, and fears as they do.
As an author, I try to write books with many layers to them, so that readers can find something new every time they reread a book; I’ve found many authors of children’s books do the same. There are often simple lessons on basic skills like counting, as well as ones on healthy habits like exercise. Often, though, the books will also contain a deeper message, and teach values like acceptance, generosity, and self-esteem.
These values teach children to see beyond themselves, and find appreciate their own gifts as well as the gifts of others. These plants the seeds for them to become responsible global citizens who care about the entire world around them, and all the people in it. That’s why reading is a truly essential part of the development of every individual; it’s something that every parent and guardian should make a high priority. After all, the values children learn now will follow them into adulthood.