Play = Connection
Updated: Jan 29, 2022
Several parents have asked me, "Why are your picture books filled with such advanced language"? I get it. They're thinking that children won't be able to even pronounce the words, or even understand 'em for that matter. And they're right. But, my books aren't designed for children to read solo. At least not until they're older. That language is for the YOU...the adults.
The books are designed to be shared, to facilitate an even deeper connection with children and adults. Essentially, by reading such books children, they are being mirrored. This is a critical step in the establishment of empathy and self-esteem (at least according to the developmental psychologists that I've read). Basically, that time spent together, and the interaction itself makes them feel like they matter, that they're important, and that someone cares.
But, here's the really cool aspect. This interaction is a form of play, which has enormous bonding components in our brains. Research shows that we have an entire play circuit within our brains, and when that circuitry is lit up, we achieve connections perhaps never thought possible. Here's a link to a great article regarding that phenomenon. Play insulates us. It protects us. In fact, I'd hypothesize that it's even transmitted between species. How else would you explain a child's connection with their dog, goldfish, goat, or whatever animal pulls at their heart strings? I would even go so far as to suggest that children can even attain such connections with inanimate objects (e.g. their stuffed animal of choice). If you watch when they are playing with these toys, they are generating relationships between them. Mr. Cow and his friend Grandma Giraffe are watching Netflix together and sharing popcorn in a fort they built out of bedsheets. That's probably something that we can all learn from children...how to be more accepting and understanding of one another.
So, when reading to your children, have fun with it. Be silly. My books have big characters that you can play with the voice. Trust me, children won't need to know exactly what the words mean. They'll pick that up from the energy you exhibit in your reading. And years from now, when they come across the book as an older child, they'll pick it up and read it for themselves. They'll understand the words. But more importantly, they'll think about the time you shared with them, they'll think about the animation in your voice, the laughter and remember how you played together. They'll reflect on that shared experience they had with you...and smile.