"Reading is good for children's emotional development" - Joanna Nicolas Na

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To celebrate National Children’s Book Day, we asked some of our Hiyas authors to answer two simple questions.

These are the answers of Joanna Niclas Na, author of Bible ABC Coloring Book and Bible People Old Testament Activity Book.


My children often ask me to read to them. Recently, we finished reading Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. Currently, we’re reading Beyond the Deep Woods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddel. We also frequently read various picture books.

In my observation, reading for leisure develops my children’s facility with language much better than our homeschooling lessons on grammar. Because they often read and are read to, they’ve developed a keen awareness of what is good writing and, in effect, proper grammar.

Through reading, they learn words they normally won’t encounter in daily conversations. Once, I heard one of my boys cry, “What an imbecile!” Reading has helped my children get attuned to the nuances of language—rhyme, rhythm, figures of speech, and more. I enjoy seeing my kids smile when they get a pun!

Reading a lot of illustrated books has helped my children appreciate art and design and develop an eye for detail. While reading a storybook, they notice when the illustrations are badly done. In one book, they spotted that a character has a missing arm.

Reading is also good for children’s emotional development. Through reading stories, children learn to weigh a character’s behavior and motivation. “Agh!! Why is Thor like that?” My children cried while I was reading Norse Mythology to them. They reacted to an episode of Thor being so full of himself.


The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey written by  Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch.

The blurb of the book goes, “Jonathan Toomey was once a happy man with a wife and baby. But since their death his grief turned him cold and hard…. One winter’s day the widow McDowell and her son Thomas knock at the sad woodcarver’s door to ask if he will make them a set of nativity figures. When, gruffly, he agrees, the heart-warming Christmas miracle of Jonathan Toomey begins.”

The book was published by a non-religious publisher—Walker Books—but tackled a Christian subject: how a person’s life is changed by the birth of Jesus Christ. This book showed me how a Christian story in a children’s book can be told without being corny, preachy, or didactic. The writer gently and subtly showed how Mr. Toomey was transformed by his encounter with Jesus while carving the nativity figures. The illustrations of P.J. Lynch beautifully captured the emotions of the characters and the poignancy of the scenes. The concluding pages made me teary-eyed.

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Joanna Nicolas-Na has written two books for Hiyas: Bible ABC Coloring Book and Bible People Old Testament Activity Book. Both books were illustrated by her husband Nixon Na. Together, they homeschool their two children.