Author: Sabine Schultz
April 2nd 2022: International Children’s Book Day
This day is dedicated to all the bookworms out there and to those who wish to become one.
This day is intended as a reminder of how important it is that all children and young people have the opportunity to read.
April 2nd is the birthday of the famous Danish poet and writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875). Many of us middle agers grew up with his fairy tales; “The Little Mermaid, “Thumbelina” or “The Princess and the Pea” were known all over the world. In 1967, his birthday was chosen as a symbol by the non-profit organization IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) for International Children's Book Day. IBBY is committed to ensuring that children all over the world can read children's books.
What do your children do in their free time?
Of course, not all children like to read. But if a child finds the right book it can ignite a new passion in them. Reading is important for children. Reading makes kids mentally fit because the brain operates at optimum levels while reading. This is because the reading process itself challenges the brain but also because the imagination of the reader is required when reading fantastical stories. This is especially true for reading material without images: what does the setting look like? How do we imagine the people or animals in it, their appearances, voices, and their personalities? And how would one behave if we were in the situations found in the stories we read? For young readers, their own thoughts and ideas flourish, and little bookworms can, under ideal circumstances, completely immerse themselves in the fantasy world that a good book opens up for them.
This is also why reading – despite great brain activity – also causes a relaxing effect, because children can forget everyday life and create their own oasis where the stresses of their lives can be forgotten. Depending on what young (and even older) readers are interested in, they also learn new things through reading; Cognitive skills and vocabulary improve without effort. This expands individual ability to express oneself and also trains the ability to develop ideas or solutions related to other areas of life. In addition, reading skills are critical to education and learning.
Reading has a tremendous impact on helping children learn to concentrate. With many activities, side tasks can also be done at the same time. But reading a book doesn't work that way, it demands your full attention. You can not effectively multitask while you read. Outside conversations, noises, interruptions, even personal needs are perceived as disturbing and may even go unnoticed – a sign of how deeply a good book can captivate your attention.
As scientists from world famous Yale University in the United States concluded *, reading books also improves emotional intelligence. And all of this applies not just in children. There are also good reasons for adults to become book addicts even later in life and to make reading a lifelong habit. The most striking epiphany in the 12-year long study with over 3,600 adult participants, was that frequent readers had a higher life expectancy of 23 percent. In other words, frequent reading leads to a longer life. The definition of “frequent reader” was described as at least 3.5 hours per week. So, if you read for half an hour a day, you will add to your longevity. It is important to note however, that books are the enablers of this longevity gain, not magazines or newspapers, because only when reading books does the state of deep focus which encompases so much brain activity arise, immersing oneself totally in a story.
What else can we learn from the study? It's never too late to start reading books.
The International Children's Book Day set the goal of giving children wieder and better access to books with literary and artistic standards, creating conditions for the publication and distribution of high-quality children’s books and bringing together and supporting people interested in children’s and young adult literature . A selected author from the constantly changing responsible country writes a message to the children of the world and an illustrator is asked to design a poster. In 2022, the IBBY section of Canada will have the Hans Christian Andersen Day under the motto of the author Richard Van Camp: “Stories are wings that help you soar every day”. A flyer and poster by illustrator Julie Flett are available for download on the IBBY website. **
International Children’s Book Day features special events such as presentations by authors and illustrators, readings, writing competitions and book prizes. But French philosopher and author, Voltaire had already formulated the most important thing we can learn from our observations on reading, and that is quite simply that “reading strengthens the soul”.