Did you know there is a research-based relationship between child mental health and literacy? Many children with reading difficulties also face mental health challenges. Poor reading performance has been linked to children’s social-emotional difficulties and research determining whether, and to what extent, reading difficulties increase a child’s likelihood of feeling angry, distractible, sad, lonely and/or anxious has demonstrated strong correlation in this area. These quotes are from two of many researchers looking at this issue:
“It may be the case that mental health problems arise as a direct consequence of reading difficulties. If this is the case, then remediation of reading skills should also improve child self-esteem and mental health.” (Boyes, et.al, 2016, p. 265)
“Students who do not develop strong reading skills are at greater risk for developing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and behavior problems.” (Wilcox, 2020, The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/reading-struggles-dont-wait-to-advocate-for-your-child-130986)
Success in literacy development can help to ensure successful outcomes for children not only in education but in all other areas of life. Yet another reason why early identification and early, effective preventive approaches are critical. This is one of the reasons why Calgary Reads works to improve literacy outcomes for ALL children in our community and why your support of our work is so valued.
Reading aloud to children helps them to become readers. Providing children access to books which allow them to reflect on and express their feelings benefits their mental health. I know you care as much about children’s well-being and success as we do, which is why in this blog post I would like to highlight the following children’s books to parents, teachers and community members:
Words and Your Heart By Kate Jane Neal
The Feelings Book By Todd Parr
I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness By Susan Verde
The Princess and the Fog By Lloyd Jones
When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry… By Molly Bang
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings By Jo Witick
Say Something By Peter H. Reynolds
Literacy is a fundamental right. We know, if a child is a confident reader they are empowered in many ways. Literacy affords access to further learning opportunities and helps children develop a strong sense of well-being. Children who have developed strong reading skills perform better in school and in turn, have a healthier self-image for continued success in school and life.
Boyes, M.E., Leitao, S., Claessen, M., Badcock, N.A., & Nayton, M. (2016). Why are reading difficulties associated with mental health problems? Dyslexia, 22, 263–266.
Wilcox, G. (2020). Reading Struggles? Don’t wait to Advocate for your child. The Conversation: Academic rigour, journalistic flair, February 23, 2020 https://theconversation.com/reading-struggles-dont-wait-to-advocate-for-your-child-130986