The power of books for a more affective and conscious childhood

By inviting children to relate to words – whether through shared reading silently or aloud, or through storytelling from children’s books – an opportunity is created to strengthen bonds, expansion of social awareness and development of emotional intelligence.

In the midst of a routine in which the screens are interposed even between family members and children, the act of an adult to stop what they are doing, take a book in their hands and intentionally invite a child to participate in this moment is something powerful, as stated by the literacy teacher and storyteller Samara Rosa. “Unlike a cell phone screen, you can’t just put the book in front of the child and expect them to entertain themselves, especially with the younger ones.”

“Stories provide interaction”

The teacher talks about the power of stories not only as someone who studies the subject, but from the place of those who experienced it. “It took me a while to come into contact with a physical book, but I’m sure it was through the stories told by my grandfather that I started wanting to read written stories”, says Samara about the affective memories of the family of Afro-Brazilian traditions in the wheels of chimarrão.

Reading to or with the child conveys the message that the child is important. “It is a moment of demonstration of affection, in which the adult is not sharing time with other tasks. He is there, present”, says Samara. In this triangulation (reader-book-listener), the book object is the link between them, a stimulus for the child to become a reader and enjoy reading.

Arthur, 9, proves the importance of being exposed to spaces where the book is featured. In his house, there are many moments of shared reading. “My father and mother always read to me”. In addition, he is already a card reader at rubber library, a community library in a tire shop, in Sabará (MG). “I remember the first time I picked up a book there. That’s when I started to read more”, says Arthur.

It was precisely by observing this relationship between the act of stopping and reading that, 20 years ago, the Borrachalioteca was created. Founder Túlio Damascena, son of the owner of the place, noticed that people were reading the newspaper while waiting for the tires to be fixed. “If they stop to read the newspaper, why can’t they read books?” Today, the collection is composed exclusively of literature books and families are very grateful for the books that have provided more critical thinking to young people.

Social awareness in children’s books

Even a book full of magic starts from a concrete reality, as the writer Cristino Wapichana says. “In the children’s book, the magical time is explored, what enchants the child. Whatever the story, it is based on something real and, therefore, it touches on the social consciousness that already exists in children”.

Cristino lived his childhood among his Wapichana indigenous people and, like Samara, remembers that, before being a reader, he was a listener. “Our oral tradition is very strong and, at school, there was only textbook. It was remarkable when I read a book [de literatura] for the first time, at age 25. I found that reading can free, save,” she says.

It is with this trajectory that Cristino became the writer of award-winning books, such as “A boca da noite” and “O filho e o curumim”, in which he portrays scenes of Wapichana life and indigenous myths. For him, one way to encourage dialogue and respect from an early age, starting at home, is to explore the message of the coexistence of diversity from children’s books. “Humanity is the same everywhere. There is only one world and one humanity. Taking this from a story can contribute to reducing prejudices”.

Passionate about fairy tales, Nina, 9, says that, from them, she got to know characters very different from her. “Snow White was the most different character from me that I have ever met. She lived in a castle and had an evil stepmother.”

The stories also stimulate connections between different people, show how to resolve a conflict with respect and how to relate in an affective way, for example. “Everything a child learns from a story stays in their subconscious and will appear, in some way, in their daily lives”, says Cristino.

Exercising emotional intelligence

Fiction books bring imaginary stories that always leave a doubt: could this happen to me? Which of these characters am I?

When reading and telling stories, it is as if the adult were leading the child along a path in which he will have the opportunity to exercise his empathywhich is the ability to identify with the emotions of the other, and to know yourself better, looking inside yourself.

“During reading, the child may come into contact with some situation of emotional conflict that he has experienced and this may be an opportunity to work on emotional intelligence in a playful way, helping her to recognize emotions, their causes, consequences and knowing how to deal with them in the best way, accepting her own limits”, says Samara.

For Nina, one of the great lessons she learned from the stories she’s heard and read is about her own worth. “I learned about self-esteem. One of my favorite books is Dandara, who is a heroine who looks like me.”

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Nina, 9, in love with fairy tales, recommends that all adults read a book about Dandara

When a story arouses emotions (joy, anger, fear, sadness, disgust…), family members can welcome and open the channel for dialogue. Samara warns that the conversation will not always happen at that moment, but it is important for the child to know that he has space to talk about it. “Many times, it has happened that no comment appears right after the end of a story. But two or three days later, the child comes to me and starts to establish some bridges with his life. ‘You know that part of the story? So I didn’t like it very much,’ they say. And from there we started talking”, says Samara.

The teacher also draws attention to the fact that family members do not use the moment of reading or storytelling as if it were a space for therapy, since certain issues must have professional follow-up, or even as a pretext to “make children open up” as this can create a negative association.

“The moment in history is an opportunity for a relationship and, therefore, must be pleasurable for those involved”

When is the best time to share a story? Samara suggests that there is not just “the” time for reading. “It is important to read to and with the child in different situations. It can be before going to school, after lunch, before going to bed… This shows that she has free access to the book and what the stories provide.”

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The encounter with words since childhood favors the strengthening of bonds, the expansion of social awareness and the development of emotional intelligence.

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