The importance of books
LANGUAGE AS A TOOL TO STRENGTHEN THE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHILDREN
Literature gives children appreciation of their own cultural heritage as well as those of others; it helps children develop emotional intelligence and creativity; it nurtures growth and development of the child’s personality and social skills; and the stories and themes pass on from one generation to the next.
Children’s literature can be an excellent starting point for discussion celebrating the differences and similarities of different groups of people. By using stories that feature various different characters and settings we can hope to foster the values of tolerance and mutual respect that are needed to function in modern society. For example, a study in 2006 found that reading stories that showed characters with disabilities developed improved attitudes and acceptance towards others with disabilities among its participants (Cameron & Rutland, 2006).
Parents who are mindful of the nuanced message respectful and empathetic stories may convey to children can provide a counter-narrative to exclusion by providing books with sensitive and emotional balanced characters and those that challenge stereotypes.
Children are read and explore picture books repeatedly therefore the messages, including those that are implicit, are repeated. This further emphasises the need for quality diverse literature (Burke, 2013). Furthermore, parents want to ensure that the diverse literature they select does not perpetuate negative stereotypes of already marginalised groups (Symeonidou & Loizou).