- Family and Parenting
Reading to Your Children - Tips, Reasons, & Book Choices
Why read to your children?
When parents spend time reading to their children, they are teaching good habits and a love for books. The special time you spend together on a daily basis will help your family grow closer together. As well, research has shown that reading to your children helps them develop good reading, writing, and comprehension skills.
I remember getting a story before bedtime, and this tradition later turned into reading on my own each night before it was “lights out” time. Between being read to and reading on my own, I developed an expansive vocabulary, testing at a tenth grade reading level while in the fifth grade. Babies and children learn a lot about language simply by listening to the people around them. By reading to them, you help them learn the different styles of sentence construction that you might not use in regular, everyday speaking.
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It’s never too early to start reading.
You can start reading to your children as babies. Choose sturdy books that your baby can hold and look at herself. Paper isn’t a good idea, unless you want it ripped or ending up in baby’s mouth. Books with different textures and peek-a-boo flaps encourage your baby to reach out to feel the book. While reading the story, point out and describe the pictures. If your baby doesn’t appear interested in your reading, try singing the words instead of reading them. When I worked as a nanny, I used to make sound effects and take on the voices of different characters.
As your babies grow into young children, introduce them to other picture books. Children between the ages of three and six years old will still enjoy picture books, but choose ones that tell a complete story. While reading to your children, let them take time examining the pictures. Ask them to identify where certain things are in the story: “Can you find the red balloon?” This will make reading more of a fun, interactive experience. If your child requests that you reread certain book over and over, ask her to read it to you. She will have an idea of the story, and you will enjoy listening to her version.
Moving on to longer stories: chapter books.
As your children get older, you might want to establish of pattern of reading them every night before bed. Instead of reading a few short books, try introducing some chapter books. You can read one or two chapters each night. Starting at the age of seven, your children will probably start learning how to read at school. Encourage them to read on their own at times, but continue reading to them. This teaches children that reading can be a fun, rewarding, family experience.
Reading together allows you to share special time and great stories.
How to choose chapter books for your children.
Choosing age appropriate books for your children is as important as monitoring the television and movies you allow them to watch. There are a lot of wonderful books out there, but what may be a great book for a twelve year old probably won’t be for a nine year old. As well, remember that just because a book is popular doesn’t mean you have to read them to your kids if they aren’t old enough for these particular books.
Newer books are great, but also reach out to the classics. Maybe you have some books that you remember from your childhood—this is the perfect time to share those memories with your children. You can also choose chapter books that are a series.
Some Book Suggestions
There are tons of fabulous books out there, but I’m going to share some of my childhood favorites:
Little House on the Prairie – This series, beginning with Little House in the Big Woods, is the life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, a girl who travelled with her family out west in a covered wagon. Based on her real life experiences, Wilder’s stories provide an entertaining glimpse into history, and also provides stories about working hard and family values.
The Indian in the Cupboard – This series of books all begins when a boy, Omri, discovers a cupboard that brings his toys to life. The adventures throughout these books show the strengthening relationship between Omri and an Indian (Native American) out of the past. Cultures collide, but they learn to love and respect each other.
The Chronicles of Narnia – Allow C.S. Lewis to take you into a different world with this delightful series. It all begins in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when you Lucy Pevensie discovers a magical wardrobe that leads into another world. The series tells the story of this world, from the day it began to the day it ends. You can read the books in the order they were written, or chronologically. Either way, they are magical, adventure stories.
Whatever you choose to read, have fun and enjoy the special time you will share with your family.
Do you have some family favorites you would like to share? Please leave a comment in the box below.