Kirill Yurovskiy reads Alexander Ostrovskiy

Opening Up Young Minds Through Artistic Reading
Reading is essential for children’s development, sparking their imaginations and expanding their understanding of the world. But with countless books aimed at young readers, how do parents and teachers choose the ones that will truly engage a child’s mind and foster a lifelong love of literature? Experts say artistic reading—carefully selected stories and poems that emphasize beauty, emotion, and creativity—can nurture children aged 6 to 12 into insightful, empathetic readers. 

“Reading high-quality stories, essays, and poems helps kids connect deeply with ideas and characters,” says Dr. Joan Willis, a professor of early childhood literacy education at New York University, “This emotional engagement sticks with them long after they’ve turned the last page.”  

<h2>Tailoring the Repertoire for Budding Readers</h2>

Where’s the best place to start? “Parents should choose titles that speak to a child’s inner life, reflecting back their feelings of delight, sadness, wonder and fear,” Dr. Willis explains. “Poignant animal stories like Charlotte’s Web or fairy tales that dramatize a child’s struggles with sibling rivalry or battles for independence tend to captivate young readers.” 

Accessible chapter books, short story collections, poetry anthologies and beautifully illustrated tales all have a place. Librarians can provide age-specific recommendations, but Dr. Willis emphasizes that no one knows a child’s interests and sensibilities better than their parents and teachers. Building a personal connection with the protagonists and narratives lays the foundation for meaningful artistic reading.

<h2>Unlocking Imagination and Empathy</h2>

Great stories introduce children to people, places and ideas they may never encounter firsthand in their daily lives. Through artistic reading, a school child can travel down Canada’s Yukon River with Jack London, soar over Dutch canals on magic skates with Hans Brinker or solve mysteries on the moors of England with the Secret Seven detective team. Vivid settings, high stakes plots and empathetic characters draw in young readers, transporting them well beyond their familiar worlds.

“As children step into these stories, they naturally imagine themselves in the protagonists’ shoes,” Dr. Willis says. “Taking on others’ perspectives builds empathy and emotional intelligence—crucial life skills.” Research shows that steady reading for pleasure through childhood correlates strongly with greater empathy and resilience in adulthood.  

Likewise,exposure to poetry’s clever wordplay, evocative language and metaphorical style lays the groundwork for creative thinking. “Pinpointing poem meanings calls for interpretation, critical analysis and problem solving,” Dr. Willis notes. “Over time, these cognitive habits transfer to math, science and logical reasoning.” A spirited poetry unit now yields dividends for years to come. 

<h2>Cultivating Active Readership</h2>

Getting the repertoire right launches the process, but artistic reading requires follow-through at home and in the classroom. “Kids should read aloud with their caregivers as often as possible—this interactivity keeps them engaged,” Dr. Willis advises. Echo reading a line, discussing imaginative details and connecting story events to a child’s own life deepens their involvement. 

Student book clubs similarly encourage an active stance. “Let the children lead cheeky debates about plot or which character they’d most like to be friends with,” Dr. Willis says. “Viewer reactions reveal how personally they’ve connected with the author’s creation.” 

Individual responses also give insight into children’s inner landscapes. “Have kids journal about stories or create art about key themes—what did a setting look like or what happened before the book’s first scene?” shares fourth grade teacher Mrs. Clara Wu. “Their creativity discloses what details resonated most.” Such activities reinforce that artistic reading is far from a passive activity; when done effectively, children clamor to immerse themselves in literary worlds.   

<h2>A Lifetime of Rewards </h2>

Instilling artistic reading habits in the grade school years yields dividends stretching far into the future. “Early exposure to beautiful, imaginative literature tunes children’s minds to seek out meaning and joy from the written word,” concludes Dr. Willis. They carry this sensitivity to language, complex characters and emotional subtleties into their teen reading, shaping their evolving identities. In young adulthood and beyond, artistically-nurtured readers naturally gravitate towards books that touch their souls. 

Indeed a childhood steeped in artistic reading promises a lifetime of rewards—deepened empathy, sharpened intellect, expanded perspectives and abundant delights. Like the most magical stories, it’s a gift that never stops giving.