They make reading fun
Evidence suggests that annuals increase vocabulary, just as books do, but they can also help to instil a new-found love of reading. They have the ability to make children who were previously reluctant readers, or saw reading as a chore, to actually get rather excited about reading in general. The comics and stories in annuals often contain the same story elements as those found in books, including characters, setting, theme, conflict and resolution. However, the pictures in annuals also help to build children’s confidence; in fact, the brain is said to process images 60,000 times faster than it processes words. So, rather than presenting them with an overwhelming page of text they provide emotional cues and visual context – meaning children will start to think of themselves as an independent reader.
They are a hobby
When your child immerses themselves in an annual, they are exploring a new hobby; and one that is much more educational than many video games out there. Reading annuals is a great way for kids to take part in something with a goal and purpose that is completely separate from school. When they complete a puzzle or a task within their annual, they will feel a sense of achievement – especially those who are struggling with academic work. It can also help develop cognitive skills such as problem solving and logical thinking.
They help them work out what they enjoy
Young readers need variety in their “reading diet”, and annuals provide everything (quizzes, stories, activities, jokes, etc.) for them to explore. In turn, they are great at teaching kids how to express themselves and work out what they enjoy the most. As a parent, you could encourage your child and support particular activities they seem to get the most pleasure from. For example, if you see they are engrossed by puzzles, you could treat them to a jigsaw or puzzle book. Annuals are usually based around a certain theme – for example, this year’s Horrid Henry 2015 Annual has a theme of ‘nasty nightmares’ (with jokes, puzzles and quizzes on the subject, ideas of things to do, stories and strips from various characters, and a glow in the dark cover!). Annuals will therefore feed your child’s imagination on the particular subject and theme of the book.
They are sociable
Annuals are a good way of getting friends and family chatting. Your child will love sharing a good joke they have come across with you, and nothing brings people together like a dose of the giggles! They will also enjoy talking to friends about their annuals, working on them together or completing tasks and activities as a team. Encourage your child to show you what they are doing, recap stories for you and help them with activities, when appropriate.
They are something for a rainy day
Perhaps most obviously, annuals help banish boredom and will keep your child quiet though Boxing Day and well into the New Year! This will not only make your life easier (you won’t have to constantly be thinking of exciting things for them to do) but will also help to keep children motivated and focused as they grow out of some of their toys and games. Whether it’s a rainy day, a weekend or a long train journey, the many pages within an annual will provide hours of entertainment, whilst at the same time being educational and involving.
They have a timeless appeal
Annuals have been popular with children since the late 1800s, when publishing houses would put together annuals filled with all the best games, stories and illustrations from that year. At the turn of the century, publishers started to include new, unpublished stories and, all these years later, they are still a much-cherished Christmas present. Children continue to look forward to receiving their annual and associate them with the fun festive period; they create far fonder childhood memories than time spent watching television after school every day.
Which annual do you remember reading from your childhood? Let us know in the comments box below.