In a rapidly changing world, empowering children with strong character traits is crucial. Character development goes hand in hand with academic success, emotional well-being, and life success. Beyond the development of literacy skills, reading has the incredible ability to shape and mold a child’s character. Through the written word, they gain empathy and the ability to understand the world on an emotional level as well as an intellectual one, while attaining critical and creative thinking skills. Reading empowers kids with character and is an essential tool for personal development.

Stories help children develop empathy as they identify with characters facing various challenges, experiences and emotions. Reading exposes children to diverse characters, cultures, and perspectives, allowing them to walk in someone else’s shoes. They learn to understand and relate to the thoughts and feelings of others, fostering compassion and kindness.

By reading, children gain insights into the emotions of others, improving their ability to empathize and communicate effectively. They learn about self-reflection, resilience, and how to navigate complex emotional situations. This emotional intelligence enhances their character by fostering self-awareness, empathy, and emotional well-being.

Both fiction and nonfiction stories often present ethical dilemmas that characters must navigate. Through reading, children are exposed to moral choices and learn about the consequences of actions. As they witness characters grappling with moral decisions, they gain insights into the importance of honesty, integrity, fairness, and other fundamental values.

Books help children understand that all actions have consequences, teaching them about right and wrong in a safe and controlled environment. These moral lessons empower children to make ethical choices and develop a strong sense of personal integrity, fostering character growth.

As children encounter magical lands, fantastical creatures, and extraordinary adventures through books, they develop a sense of wonder and curiosity. They learn to think beyond the boundaries of reality, expanding their imagination and encouraging them to explore new ideas and concepts. This imaginative thinking helps shape their character, fostering a love of learning and a willingness to dream big.

Reading is a mental exercise that challenges children to think critically and engage with the content. As they read, children encounter a variety of ideas, opinions, and viewpoints, which prompts them to question, analyze, and evaluate information. By critically examining the motives, actions, and consequences within a story, they develop their own analytical thinking skills.

Through books, children learn about resilience, empathy, moral values, and emotional intelligence. As parents, educators, and caregivers, we can empower children with character by fostering a love for reading. By providing them with a diverse range of books that inspire, challenge, and ignite their imagination, we nurture their personal growth and help them become confident, compassionate, and resilient individuals. Let us embrace the power of reading to empower kids with character and create a brighter future for them and society as a whole.

Jessica Payne has held many roles at Kids Need to Read, from volunteer to Board Member, to Executive Director. Kids Need to Read is a national literacy organization that helps promote the joy of reading and the power of a literate mind to children by providing books and reading resources to schools, libraries, and other service organizations. 

Literacy and literature are Jessica’s deepest passions. She is a voracious reader and a retired teacher who has always promoted reading for pleasure as a vital part of every student’s day.