“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Suess
Reading together is an immensely important activity for families. The act of sitting together, and getting lost in the pages of a book opens up affection as well as skills in creativity, vocabulary, concentration, following concepts and so much more.
Reading together is important at all ages. Even as an infant and toddler, parents can grab books and look at the pictures together and use it to drive conversation. Babies love to hear you talk to them! And at some point, they’ll start grabbing and pointing at the pages. Then they’ll start cooing together and eventually, they will start vocalizing some of the things they hear and see.
Be prepared to read the same three books over and over and over if you have a young child. This is important for them! Not only are they learning to memorize a story plot, their brains are also putting together your words with what they see on the pages. These are the beginning stages of them learning how to read independently.
If you have older children, you can start sharing chapter books together and read a couple of chapters each night. You can discuss the plot and speak in anticipation of what you think might happen next. You can read for 10 minutes each night, or you can make it 30… find what works for your child. Start small, and work your way up.
Newspapers are another important reading tool for children as they get older. Introducing a newspaper to your young reader not only helps them engage with what is happening in their community or world, it opens up the gateway for great discussions with you! So embrace those and you might find yourself learning more about what’s going on as well.
Newspapers are also a great way to introduce reading non-creative stories. The language is a bit different, so it can introduce new terminology and concepts that they might not learn otherwise.
Great ways to start introducing the newspaper to your child is to let them play the word searches or reading the comic strip together. Then look at the photos and focus on the captions. If you live in a small community, there will often be photos of kids they know, so this becomes pretty fun.
Other ways to keep reading fun:
- Make a Game out of it: Find a book at your child’s reading level, and create a “word treasure hunt” for the pages. Help your little reader out so they can have success at this game. Reading at a young age should always be about success!
- Keep it short and simple: Follow your child’s cues for how long they can stay entertained and work within those parameters. As they age, the time should increase. But start simple if this is a new habit.
- Ask a librarian: Librarians read thousands of books from all genres every year – so use their knowledge. Find a time to go visit the library and ask the experts which books they would recommend for your family.
- Expand and Follow-up: If you read a classic book that you know has a movie or TV show as well, follow-up the completion of the story with a fun family movie date. Black Beauty? The Little Mermaid? Cat in the Hat? Robin Hood? Thomas the Train? The options are really endless.
- Engage: Make the reading experience as engaging as possible. Ask questions and explore the plot options as you go along together. Read with expressions – kids love BIG expressions in face and tone of voice, so use it!
Today’s Parent Magazine has a great article on this topic and offers some of its own tips as well. Check it out if you have time for additional ideas.
If reading is something you struggle with as a parent, start with talking about the pages. But don’t let your skill level or fear of reading, stop you from introducing books to your family.
There are also lots of great community resources to help families who struggle with reading as a skill. So please contact those. Your local library is always a great place to start to find an organization in your community that offers free learning programs and support systems towards literacy.
You can learn more about this month’s Healthy Habits in Love series here.
Day 1 challenge is here.
Day 2 challenge is here
Thanks for reading, share the love this month everyone!