Social development requires developing language and thinking skills, and understanding the rules necessary for social interaction. Children become social by developing a sense of self after feeling secure in relationships with adults and peers. Literature gives children one vehicle to develop social skills. Children can learn language by reading and listening to stories, and they also can develop socially by reading books that explore social and cultural topics.
Children learn communication skills through reading and talking. Books can also show children how people communicate in different ways. Communication differs within age groups, and literature can reinforce various types of communication that children see during the day. Books, including "Sputter, Sputter, Sput!" by Babs Bell and "The Baby Goes Beep" by Rebecca O'Connell, help teach communication and language skills to young listeners.
Characters in books typically model good social skills, but book characters displaying poor social habits also teach children what actions society labels as "inappropriate." Books such as "A Splendid Friend, Indeed" by Suzan Bloom and "Guess How Much I Love You?" by Sam McBratney show children how to make friends with others and how to behave as a good friend. Making friends requires self-regulation and understanding social perceptions. Books can teach children how to do both, according to the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities.
Books offer a way for all children of all ages to learn about cultural diversity. Reading literature about the child's own culture helps develop self-confidence, while reading about other cultures shows children how the world lives and encourages an appreciation of the differences. Babies without language learn through picture books featuring high-contrast images while toddlers can explore diversity through pictures and texts with a storyline. Books such as "Fiesta Babies" by Carmen Tafolla explore Latin culture, and "Yum Yum Dim Sum" by Amy Wilson Sanger share details of Asian cultures.
Once children learn the power of literature to explore different topics, children develop skills to seek out answers to questions through books. Reading empowers children to develop social skills. Children learn to explore social development in books with adult assistance at home and libraries and through instruction books that provide directions for searching using other books and new media. Making regular trips to the library helps children learn how to use the library and explore the services available. Introducing books that teach, such as "My First Learning Library" by Jane Yorke, also reinforce the power of books to provide answers to important questions the child has about life.
- Reading Rockets: How Does Your Child Hear and Talk?
- LD Online: Using Children's Literature to Teach Social Skills
- Online Computer Library Center Research: Books as Expressions of Global Cultural Diversity
- Association for Library Service to Children: Book List/Born to Read
- U.S. Department of Education: Reading Tips for Parents
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