We all know how important reading to our children is, but sometimes knowing what’s best is easier than doing what’s best. Life is busy, and sitting down to read with your child can get lost between working, cooking, cleaning, driving the kids to sports, and getting a free second to shower.
Then there’s the TV. You know, the one that one thing that quiets a fussy toddler and calms a rambunctious child. It starts with “just one show” and turns into a couple hours of peace and quiet (or a chance to actually clean up without the mess immediately coming back).
Considering how crazy life is, reading with your children has to be an intentional effort made every day. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be intense, but it does need to happen. 20 minutes. 20 minutes a day from birth on is what it takes to build a strong reading foundation.
Here are 5 ways that might help you fit reading into your life a little easier:
#1 Read together
Reading with your child has many benefits- it strengthens the bond between you and your child, creates a love for reading, promotes communication, builds vocabulary, increases your child’s chances for academic success, builds listening skills, and encourages imagination.
While reading together, actively engage your child in the story by taking a picture walk before you read the book, changing your voice for the different characters, and predicting what might happen before turning the page.
Remember that reading to your child doesn’t stop when your child enters school. Continue to read with your child even after he learns to read. There are no negative effects to reading to your child, no matter what the age!
#2 Read anywhere
Reading can and should happen anywhere. Be the proactive mom that sticks a book in her purse to read while waiting in the Dr. office. Take a book to the park and read on the bench before leaving. Read the menu at the restaurant. Read road signs as you’re driving down the road (assuming your kids aren’t sucked into a DVD). Get creative and find new spots to fit reading into your daily life.
As you intentionally make time for reading each day, don’t be surprised if your child’s behavior changes for the better! Spending quality time spent together and fully engaging your child in a good book are both positive reasons to fit reading into your daily schedule. (BTW, be prepared to read the same book over and over…and over!)
#3 Read anytime
For some, reading happens naturally throughout the day. For the rest of us, intentionally setting aside time is necessary to make sure it’s accomplished every day. Some mom’s make it a habit to read the same time every day might be helpful. You could have a family meeting to decide what reading times will work best. Bedtime is classic, but there may be other times that also work for your schedule. Give your children permission to hold you accountable. No excuses, or you’ll always be too tired or too rushed to stop, drop, and read.
#4 Read different genres
Don’t limit yourself to only picture books; read a variety of genres (that’s a fancy word for different kinds of books). If their father loves comics, encourage him to read graphic novels to the children. Read to them from your favorite “child friendly” series, such as Roald Dahl or Harry Potter. As you read a variety of books, your child is exposed to different cultures/locations, new vocabulary, and different writing styles.
iPads can be used for more use than just games. Change it up and download a few children’s books. Let them help slide through the pages as you spend time reading together.
#5 Read quietly
With all the research based benefits of reading aloud to your child, there are inevitably times that it’s just not possible. Under these circumstances, encourage your child to quietly look at a book, starting at a young age. This isn’t a skill that is mastered in one sitting. Children have to learn how to sit and look at the pictures without needing adult interaction.
Use wordless books to stimulate imagination; encourage children to tell the story on their own. Wordless books are great to pull out while making dinner or waiting in the car to pick up a sibling. Get your child ready for this independent skill with a picture walk and showing them how to create a story by just looking at the pictures. Once they become familiar with doing it together, it will come more naturally for them to do on their own.
Here in the Quad Cities, we have this AMAZING resource available to all children ages birth to 5. United Way of the Quad Cities has made reading to your child easier by offering the Imagination Library to all QCA children. Signing up for the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will allow your child to be sent age appropriate books every month for FREE.
Then, once you have signed up, bring the books to life by printing these activities United Way has put together!
The QCMB team LOVES this local resource. Many of our writers have children young enough to take advantage of this program! We are sharing photos of our favorite books over on Facebook. We would love to see photos of your children enjoying books from the Imagination Library, too! Please share your photos with us by uploading to our Facebook page; we’ll add to our Imagination Library album!
Thanks to the United Way of the Quad Cities for sponsoring today’s post. We at QCMB love working with local organizations to share positive information and make our community a better place to live, work, and play.