Storybooks | The most valuable addition to your home
Looking around your home, what would you say are the most valuable things? Aside from your children themselves, and the various bits of technology that have become part of modern day living, what else is really of value? Musical instruments maybe, to make music and dance? Painting materials, so you can express yourself visually? Craft supplies, enabling you to hand make beautiful and useful things?
I wonder, did the contents of your bookshelf cross your mind? I urge you to go and take a look at it, at all those spines of books patiently waiting to be picked up and read, for therein lies treasure more precious than your great-grandmother's jewellery: STORIES.
What's so great about stories?
EVERYTHING. Because stories are everything. Stories can contain anything that's ever happened or been felt, or could ever be imagined. They can be what you need them to be, surprise you, educate you, provide comfort. Turns out us humans quite like listening to stories, but they can be a really useful tool too.
The moment you pick up a book from the shelf you have made a good decision: it means you're going to sit down, snuggle up, and have a rest! Parenting small children is full on. One of the wisest things you can do for yourself is factor regular storytime into your daily rhythm. It may be the only time you sit down all day, and, if you have a particularly active child, the easiest way you can get them to stop for a cuddle. Not only is it good for us to have a rest, it's good to slow kids down for a moment too. Lower those cortisol levels, touch base, reset, and be nourished by the contents of your storybook.
Better than TV
Yes, TV is also good for giving parents a rest, but it's actually really stressful for the brains of young children. What looks like the deep relaxation of a child slumped in front of the television is almost a sort of paralysis as their brains struggle to keep up with the fast-changing images and sound effects - far faster than anything they would have to process in every day life. That's why they often have a meltdown when you turn it off. Being told a story through a book rather than a TV show is a far more relaxing experience for a child. Reading together allows you to turn the pages at a pace that's right for them, and take the time to explain things that might not have been understood.
There are also some beautiful books out there which convey their stories visually. Leave these lying around at the right moment for your child to do some independent 'reading'.
The Seasons books by Gerda Muller are lovely examples of stories without words
Being read to can increase a child's vocabulary! Introducing new words and longer sentences means that they have more ways of speaking to choose from, and they'll be able to work things out more easily when it comes to reading themselves. We talk all day long to our children, but, looking back on it, how much variety is there in what we say? We also tend to simplify what we're saying, which isn't needed as much for storytime. Stretch your child's literary skills at the same time as stretching their imagination.
What do you want your child to learn about?
Stories capture our imaginations, which is the most powerful learning tool. It might be that your child could benefit from understanding something about themselves - hearing about another person in the same situation as you can help you to process your feelings about it. Or it might be that you want your child to learn about entirely new things. One of the most amazing things stories can do, especially for young children, is make them see familiar things with fresh eyes. Read a story about animals living in the hedgerow and your child will see bushes and brambles as homes for wildlife.
Up there with learning to read and write, understanding other people's feelings - or even that people feel differently to you - is a really important life skill. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes, or just learning about different lives and experiences, opens the door to a world of harmony. Whether they're about a child you might meet at the playground or someone who lives on the other side of the world, stories can show you how we're all the same, at the same time as celebrating our differences.
Diversity and Representation
At Conscious Craft we believe that when children are enjoying storybooks they should have the opportunity to gain insight into other ways of living and different cultures, as well as being able to recognise themselves. That means that along with educational books about different cultural traditions, it's important that a diverse range of children are able to see themselves represented within stories. We are striving to increase our collection of books where the stories rise above the child's diversity within their context, and they are represented within a story that any child could relate to.
Taking reading for granted
You will find storytellers in every culture, but not everyone can read, and most of the people who can't are women. We've touched on many amazing things about stories - how they can work therapeutically, create moments of connection, expand your horizons - but we haven't thought about what a gift it is to be able to read them. And how with that gift comes the ability to write, and share your own thoughts and feelings with others. One Girl is a thought provoking book which beautifully illustrates how education and books can inspire change, and how one child can make a huge difference to the lives of others.
So, those are just a few of the things that we think are so great about stories and reading, and it's for those reasons that we stock Storybooks at Conscious Craft. We believe wholeheartedly that books can never be a bad investment - in fact, they may just be the most valuable things in your home.