Updated: Feb 10
Last week was a whirlwind week. Freedom Field was published. The culmination of 2 months of marketing and building momentum for its release. One of the key motivations behind writing Freedom Field was developing stories that would get students excited about history and learning generally.
With schools focusing more on preparing students for exams, I have seen a significant decline in students’ interest in learning for the sheer joy of learning. It has been my experience that books have a unique advantage in setting the tone to inspire curiosity and creativity. By incorporating them into the lessons of most academic disciplines or just making a wider selection available in the home, books are a great way to get children engaged in their curriculum and to foster greater curiosity in the world around them.
There are 3 ways that books do this:
Books are naturally entertaining
What better way to capture someone’s attention than through humour or beautifully designed illustrations? Books can be the perfect tool to use as a ‘hook’ to introduce a concept. Some of my favourites are:
The Calvin and Hobbes series. Bill Watterson cleverly infuses a range of subject matters (eg math, science, history) into the dialogue between Calvin and the other characters. Overlaid with his sarcastic humour Calvin and Hobbes is a timeless treasure.
One Monday Morning by Uri Shulevitz teaches sequencing by bringing the characters of playing cards to life and having them visit a young boy. Imagine the royal family in all their splendour climbing the stairs of an apartment building in the middle of an apartment building. Makes me chuckle every time I read it.
Books provide an authentic context
By placing new content in its wider context books helps with developing an understanding of the concepts. For example, sharing a book about the rainforest and all the organisms that live there will help with readers seeing and consequently understand its characteristics as a unique biome. This is where non-fiction texts are particularly valuable.
"Reading aloud to your child helps them use their imaginations to explore people, places, times, and events beyond their own experiences." – The Children's Bureau
They help children to visualise content.
Having an image of the concepts being introduced definitely supports greater understanding. This is particularly helpful when studying historical periods that students have not experienced, such as the Middle Ages and slavery. This is also useful when presenting information in the Sciences and Geography. For a student who lives in the Caribbean, for example, where the experience of winter may be outside their realm of experience, books are a great way to bridge the gap.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is beautifully crafted and is a perfect example of using literature to bring to life the late 1800s when the technology was being developed for the film industry. The rich descriptions by the author coupled with stunning black and white sketches bring that period to life.
Engendering a love of learning in children (and for us too adults) can be made so much easier if we incorporate good books. There are so many benefits to incorporating reading and research that not only build specific skill sets but also encourage children to explore content in an entertaining and meaningful way.
Leave a comment below if you can think of any other reasons books are great at fostering a love of learning and greater curiousity.
Check out our most recent release: Freedom Field