5 Ways Books Boost Social Skills in Children

[For Lil’-Big Hoots and beyond (ages 18 months-12 years old)] 

There are over 7.7 billion people in the world, and for the better part of 2-years, we had to literally keep each other at arm’s length. Babies were born. Children walked for the first time while family members watched over Zoom and FaceTime. Our kids got to know their teachers as heads on a computer!

We watched our lives on the screen and now we are readjusting to the in-person show. If you’re nervous about the effect the pandemic has had on your child’s social growth, you are not alone. It was abnormal having our children enter kindergarten for the first time through a screen rather than a front door… therefore, it’s normal to wonder what their social interactions will be like! For children and parents alike, separating and being around new people may feel particularly daunting. 

So how can books help strengthen our children’s social skills and be that extra support that we all need right now?  

Reading boosts empathy 

Developing and strengthening empathy is crucial to our connections and relationships with others. Reading stories is one of the best ways to develop empathy. Stories broaden our children’s understanding of the world by introducing them to a diversity of people, places, cultures, and ideas.  

Interacting with characters is an interaction 

There is a reason we cry when our favorite characters get hurt, smile when they feel joy, and celebrate when they have success. Just as taking care of dolls or stuffed animals can teach a child important lessons about nurturing and care, connecting with characters has wonderful benefits. It teaches children to understand the experience and emotions of another. Interacting with characters in books directly translates to social interactions in the world off the page. 

 There is always a story 

Although we are transitioning back to “normal,” the world is unpredictable. Covid-19 is constantly in flux and still causes cancelations and quarantines. Beyond the pandemic, schedules are ever-changing. Children need classes with other students, playdates with their friends, conversations with family, etc., but what if you’re quarantining at home? What if a class is canceled? Or you’re in the car on a long road trip? What if your child is simply extra nervous about school and struggling to adjust? Whether you’re stuck at home or on the go, there is always a story, and within it, there is always value. 

Books are a great stepping stone if your child has any social anxiety 

Some children will run into class on the first day and be ready to go. Others might be nervous and experience fear and anxiety. This is perfectly normal and books can help! Books can act as stepping stones for going from home with mom and dad, to in class with teachers and other kids in an unfamiliar environment. If your child is nervous, consider reading books about the first day of school, making new friends, and overcoming fear. This will show your child that they are not alone in their feelings and experience. Seeing a character overcome a fear or attend a class may even give your child a confidence boost! 

Reading can be social! 

Who says you have to read alone!? There is a reason storytime is so popular in classrooms. At Book Nook, we love it! Reading together is a central part of all our classes. Reading on your own is already so beneficial, and reading with others adds another special element. Children can laugh together. If a story has any scary or sad parts, they can experience those emotions within a community of friends. And they will learn from the ideas, connections, and questions shared by their classmates.

Social interaction is so important for children, and they will never be alone with a book by their side!

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