Do you love to read? I do. I can’t remember exactly when it was that I fell in love with reading, but I think some time around the 5th or 6th Grade. As with most children, I was curious. If I had a question, the answer could always be found in a book. And there was something about having that library card in my wallet with my name on it that made me feel so empowered.
People have asked me, “How did you get your little boy into reading?” or “Wow! He talks so well! What’s your secret?” Well, I have no secrets, I just consistently read to him every day and he loves it! However, we have pretty intentional about it and if I think about it, there are some habits that have helped us on our reading/language development journey! 🙂
Here Are Some Of Our Habits For Developing Little Readers:
It can seem strange reading to a baby who is only 4 months old, but truly, that’s when I really started reading to him.
After bath time, we would sit in our little rocker and read several books before bed. In addition to reading, I always make/have made it a point to talk to him about what we are doing, whether getting dressed or having a diaper change.
Apparently, children can begin to understand words much earlier than they will ever learn to speak them. While it may seem a little silly when their eyes gaze at you with what can be mistaken as an empty stare, don’t doubt their ability to understand you or potentially understand.
If you know me, you know I am rather animated and excitable. I love using my time with Sterling to make silly voices and really get into the act of telling the story. Let your goofball run wild, because your child(ren) will look forward to these times even more.
Bring the story to life. I know and understand that this doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It didn’t really come naturally to my guy Remington as he is not “a reader”–but he has grown into quite a good story teller.
Describe and Point Things Out As You Read
Even now that Sterling and I have a much more broad dialogue, I still point things out on the pages as we read so that he can understand word association. For instance if I read the sentance, “If you give a cat a cupcake” I make sure to point to each object as I say the word (point to the cat as I say cat, then point to the cupcake).
Don’t Get Too Caught Up In Sticking To The Story
I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought of becoming a children’s writer. Sometimes the content is amazing and other times, I wonder how the author got published. Anyhow, if it is a story we are very familiar with or it is poorly written, we will find other things to talk about or point out in regards to the illustrations. This makes it new and exciting again!
There were times when Sterling was first getting excited about reading and Remington and I would be so into the process of reading the words that we would find ourselves annoyed with the interruptions of him asking questions or stopping to talk about it. But as soon as I realized I was inadvertently making it UN-FUN, I decided to roll with the punches and let him talk and answer his questions. This is him showing interest and I need to support it. Sometimes, the extra time spent means we read one less story. It’s all about flexibility.
Make Reading a Part of Your Daily Routine
We read at the same times every day: once before nap time and once again before bed time. If we don’t get to read because we happen to be elsewhere, it’s not the end of the world. Usually at nap time, I like to read between 3-5 books and at bedtime it depends on the length of each story, but we usually read around 5. Regardless, I’m no stickler about it.
When and how many books you read is up to you, but if you make it a consistent activity, your child will begin to look forward to it even more. There are also many other times throughout the day where he may bring me a book and ask me to read it–and more often than not, I am always happy to stop what I am doing to read to him for five minutes. It brightens both of our days and is a shared experience that we both look upon fondly.
Instead of Games/Tablets, Go For The Book
Like I said, I believe books to be no fail. You don’t need a special power chord or battery–you just need some imagination and reading ability. I usually throw some small books in my purse if we are going anywhere we may have to wait or need to be “entertained” (like an appointment, airport, camping, etc).
Also, we are exposed to an excessive amount of blue light technology by way of iPhones, TVs, computer screens which can actually be bad for your health and for your rest–as the blue light can trick your body into thinking that it is still daylight–and can mess with your ability to wind down and prepare for sleep. Doesn’t seem like the most relaxing way to approach bed time if you ask me, especially with a toddler or baby. Stick to the books!
We do have a tablet that my father purchased for Sterling early last year–and it has it’s place and it’s time as he has learned a considerable amount by using it–but it is no substitute for reading a book before bed or for quality time with mom or dad.
Let Him/Her Choose What He/She Would Like to Read
I am a mom that let’s my kid make small choices on his own. For as long as he has been able to communicate with me, I have given him options. At first it was picking by way of pointing and now, he can tell me. If it is something he/she is interested in, they are obviously going to be more drawn in. Some stories, for whatever reason, he doesn’t like. So, don’t feel any need to push.
Switch Up Your Material/Utilize Your Library or Book Store
It is no secret that kids get bored if they are forced to read the same thing over and over again. If they know the story, there is no surprise, nothing new to learn. Take advantage of your local libraries or school libraries. Sterling and I go about once a week to the library. He loves the experience of helping me to return the books, picking out new ones, playing games/puzzles, and helping me to check the books out.
Also, we have found with our personal book collection, that continually rotating the books in and out makes the experience more fun when we come back around to a book.
Here in Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake County Library System is amazing. You can pick books up at any location and drop them off at any location–you can also have books transferred to your location. Totally obsessed with the library system!
Anyhow, I am not formally trained on “children’s books/reading”, I just go with my motherly instinct and common sense. I hope this inspires someone somewhere to pick up a book and introduce a child to the love of reading! It could honestly make all of the difference in the way they see, interpret and interact with the world around them.
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
― Albert Einstein
Sterling loves to read so much that by the end of our week of library books, he usually has them all memorized! This little video below is from last summer, just after he turned two! Now he reads them all to me ;).