Reading to your children can do wonders for their future success.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading aloud to your children and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development, and parent-child relationships.
What’s more, a study conducted last year by a number of pediatricians shows for the first time the biological effect reading to your kids has on their brains.
MRIs revealed that children with greater home-reading exposure had greater activity in the parts of the brain that help with mental imagery and narrative comprehension.
So what are the best books to read to your kids?
As part of its Storybook Project, NPR asked a number of authors, actors, politicians, philanthropists, scientists, and musicians to reveal their five all-time favourite books they have read to their kids, and the list so far makes a great jumping-off point for any parent priming their kids for success.
Check out the sampling below, and head to NPR’s ongoing Storybook Project, for more parents and why they chose their favourite books.
When her sons were younger, Slaughter tells NPR they would read simplified versions of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Greek myths.
'One day when they must have been about 5 and 7 I brought home the actual Odyssey, in Fagles' wonderful translation, and just read them the first page or two so that they could hear what the real thing sounded like.
'They loved it; we read it slowly, but all the way through,' she says.
Slaughter tells NPR that her family members are big Rosemary Wells fans and love all her books.
'But perhaps because my oldest son is named Edward, this one became a particular favourite,' she says. 'Edward is a young bear who just isn't quite ready to join all the happy, busy kids at school. One look at his face on the cover says it all.'
Slaughter tells NPR that this is her family's enduring favourite Christmas book.
'Something about the illustrations so completely capture the anticipation of Christmas -- the one that gets us every time is a picture of the jet flying over the Atlantic, with only the lit porthole windows visible, but with 'Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells' sailing out into the night air presumably from Toot's seat.'
Gates tells NPR that she loved reading this book when her kids were young, and once they were old enough to talk, her kids would do the baby-rabbit voices, while she would do the mummy-rabbit voices.
'As we went on we'd embellish on what happens in the book and talk about the different ways we loved each other, which meant that reading the book was always a wonderful voyage of discovery for all of us.'
Gates tells NPR that she and husband Bill loved reading their kids' favourite bedtime story to them.
'It's about life from birth to death, about the continuity of generations, and as we read we could see the road ahead for our family,' she says. 'The kids never understood why we were always crying by the time we finished.'
Most recently, Gates tells NPR that she read this book after her sister saw the play adaptation in London and suggested reading the book.
'The book gives you a different perspective on a kid with Asperger's,' she says. 'His family really loves him but they're also under a lot of stress, and it takes a real emotional toll on them. So we all enjoyed peeking into the mind and heart of somebody who looked at the world a little differently.'
Some of Kopp's favourites are:
Kopp tells NPR that she reads this book, which is particularly memorable for her kids, with them every Easter.
'This book is about a determined mother rabbit with 21 cottontail children who each do their part to create a happy family and home,' she says. 'Such a fun book with great messages for kids about their responsibilities and about the importance of their mums pursuing their passions.'
'(This) is a beautiful story about the love that always connects kids and mums -- even when kids go off to school and mums go away to work,' Kopp tells NPR. 'My daughter and I talk about the invisible string all the time.'
Some of Robbins' favourites are:
Robbins tells NPR that this classic folktale proves that our problem is never about lack of resources, but rather our lack of resourcefulness.
'In this one, the clever French soldiers get creative and drive keenly toward the outcome. I've always told people that the key ingredient to success is hunger!'
Some of Chua's favourites are:
'Big Bang Theory' star and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik encourages her kids to read rather than watch TV.
Some of Bialik's favourites are:
'With so many of this generation's kids 'different' somehow -- diet, religious distinctions, 'different' social development, developmental and social delays -- this book is a wonderful conversation starter about what makes us all different and how we are the same,' Bialik tells NPR. 'It highlights the importance of seeing differences as normal, and makes any 'different' child feel not less different, but less of an outsider.'
'These stories are perfect for new readers, but usually my boys like to listen,' Bialik tells NPR. 'The morals are simple and elegant, and very gently introduced.'
She says the stories of two friends with two distinct personalities are great for kids of all ages, and explore things like fear and learning new skills.
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