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Why Children Benefit From Reading a Variety of Books

Written by: Dr. Felecia Nace, Family and Community Relations Office, New Jersey Department of Education

Reading is an important part of a child’s learning process.  Reading is a way for children to make connections between what they already know and what they read about in books.  These connections help children understand the world around them.  In addition, through books, children are exposed to characters and cultures that they may not otherwise interact with in real life.

If your child likes to read, they are off to a great start in life!  When a child is interested in reading and enjoys certain types of books such as mysteries, humor or adventure stories,  encourage your child’s natural interests in the genres they like as much as possible.

Many children are attracted to one genre or type of book, or they may have a favorite author that they like to read time and time again.  Even though children may enjoy reading a single type of literature, you can gently introduce children to other genres.  I stress the word “gently” because you do not want to push too hard and run the risk of turning your child off to reading.

Why is it important for children to read a variety of books and stories?  There are several good reasons.  The exposure to different authors and genres of books can give your child insight into other cultures, worldwide locations, and new vocabulary.  For instance, science fiction books may have different vocabulary and settings than we find in mystery books. 
Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Discuss different genres of books with your child and explain the reasons why reading a wide variety of books can be beneficial.  Click here to find out more about the importance of  reading a variety of books: http://www.nj.gov/education/cccs/2004/s3_lal.pdf.

  • Take your child to the local library and allow him/her an opportunity to select different genres of books on their own.  If your child has a hard time making a selection, then you and your child can ask the librarian for suggestions.  The more input your child has in the selection process, the more willing they will be to try something new.

  • Offer to read a genre of book along with your child that he or she has not yet tried. Whether a child is 5 or 17, he or she will enjoy sharing a story with you.  Make it exciting.  Children may try reading different genres simply because they look forward to spending quality time with you.

  • Ask your child’s teacher for suggestions on how to gently introduce new genres to your child.

  • Again, if your child is extremely resistant to trying a new reading genre, that’s okay.  Be glad that your child enjoys reading the books he/she likes for now, and try again at a later date.