Reading with your child is a fantastic way to help them to learn social skills. Even toddlers and preschoolers can learn socially acceptable – and unacceptable – behaviours through reading books.
We’ve hooked up with Julia B. Grantham, a medical doctor and author of her debut children’s book, ‘A Mole Like No Other’ to give you an idea of how reading can help your child regulate their emotions and develop self-confidence. Julia’s book has become a best-seller in five categories on Amazon and has been read by children as far away as America, Australia and Abu Dhabi.
Discuss human behaviour
Books offer the perfect opportunity to discuss human behaviour – such as how a character feels – perhaps they help out a sibling, helping, sharing toys, being brave, feeling shy and a host of other emotions. Reading with your child is a great parenting tool.
By using subtle prompting and discussions, parents and carers can use reading time as a great way to validate this behaviour– e.g., ‘Rosie is looking sad in the book, look how her mouth is turned down and her eyes look sad’. Children can learn to recognise these feelings in themselves and other people. In turn, parents and carers can continue this social coaching in day-to-day situations by pointing out and naming emotions when they happen, for example, making little Tommy aware when he is frustrated, jealous or happy.
Similarly, grown-ups can do this too, e.g., ‘Mummy is proud of you for putting your shoes on, that is very helpful’, this helps to model the desired behaviour. An extension of this is to name and point out that emotion and learn about coping mechanisms, and reading books offers a perfect chance to do this. If a character feels left out or shy, you could discuss what you could do to help.
A Mole Like No Other
In the book ‘A Mole Like No Other’ the main character, Moley, experiences a host of emotions during his adventures in his new home. From feeling left out and wanting to make friends, to feeling scared and seeking help from others, there are plenty of opportunities for discussion.
Talking about these emotions helps children learn to recognise their feelings, changes in their mood or body language, and regulate their emotions. This can lead to self-confidence and independence in future, all brilliant for your child’s development. Together you can watch out for changes in facial expressions, tone of voice, body language and point these out to your child. Even if a character in a book does not behave properly or is a bad character, it still offers a great chance to discuss socially acceptable.
Children learn about a myriad of emotions in my book, ‘A Mole Like No Other. The little mole, once he’d got his new home and a name – Moley, is very keen to be heard, to be noticed, and he makes some mistakes trying to achieve it, mainly because he is too eager to prove himself. But he is a very helpful mole, who is always the first to rush to help his friends if they are in trouble. He gradually learns the value of teamwork and relies upon his friends, and believes in himself. He actually learns a lot of important lessons in the course of the story – lessons that will help children in many tricky situations – like starting in a new school, moving home, learning new skills, looking after their personal safety and many others.
Reading the same book more than once helps give your younger children the opportunity to develop a reading habit and build confidence, which is an important part of social and emotional development. ‘A Mole Like No Other’ is written with the aim that it can be read to younger children and to be read independently by older children, as they become familiar with the story and characters.
Julia B. Grantham lives in the South of England with her husband, son, two cats, Moley, Owlie and all the other toys that make their appearance in this book; with ducks and pigeons in the garden, chickens across the road, as well as rabbits, squirrels, pheasants and deer, who visit often and also hope to make it into a book one day soon.
Julia is a medical doctor and a training consultant, but books are her passion. She is a Harry Potter fanatic, an Ambassador for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, a writer and illustrator of Jane Austen-inspired travel fiction. She is now an author of her first book for children.
A Mole Like No Other is currently free with Kindle Unlimited, or can be purchased for the limited offer of £4.99 in paperback, from Amazon. The book is also launching as an audio book, from April 15th 2021.