Confession time! I LOVE reading but I struggle with reading to my kids. It’s ridiculous. I immediately start yawning and get sleepy when I read them books, and on top of that, they wiggle and giggle and it ends up being a very draining time instead of an enjoyable time. So, I stopped reading to them.
But then I started imagining the kind of kids and family I wanted when they were older. I want to find my kids curled up with a book and for them to be inspired by the heroes and heroines that they read about. I realized it needed to change.
Here are 8 reading tips for parents and how to change the reading dynamic in your home and to get everyone on board!
Why read at home?
It is so important to read at home. Jessica Logan, the lead author of a study done on the importance of reading found that children that were read to at home came into kindergarten with about 1.4 million more words in their vocabulary than children that were not read with. This contributes to whether or not they easily can learn to read and write as well as numerous other implications to their education.
So I decided a year or so ago that I NEEDED to implement reading every day. I went into it with two priorities.
- That my kids learn to love to read and that they would want to read more.
- That they would learn to love chapter books without pictures. Not because I don’t love pictures (I do), but because I wanted to nourish my kids imaginations and encourage their brains to realize they don’t need flashing lights and bright colors to be entertained.
With these ideas in mind I moved to the next step of implementing a daily reading time:
Set a routine
Bedtime is often a common time that children get read to. Not in my house. I started to realize that we were so busy in the evenings that by the time bedtime rolled around I was either rushing to get everyone to bed because it was so late, or, I had the time but was really done with the day and didn’t want to add reading as another task to get done.
Find a time and place that is easiest for YOUR family and add it as part of the routine. Times that are naturally quiet like mealtimes are super ideal to work in reading.
I tried out a couple of different times and finally started reading at lunchtime. It was perfect for our family. All 4 kids sit quietly and eat while I read to them a chapter from whatever book we are reading.
Adjust your expectations
Check your expectations. Are they too high or too low? When we first started reading at lunch my kids (ages 3,4,6&6) wiggled and giggled and talked. I had to consistently correct it and over time they learned. Now, everybody sits quietly and listens. Not only do they listen, but they ask me to keep reading once we’ve finished a chapter! I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
At the end of a page or a chapter, I often ask them questions or have them verbally recount what has happened. This ensures that they are paying attention as well as gives them an opportunity to practice dictation.
I also often recap what happened in plainer terms to give them a better understanding of what took place. This has allowed my children to grasp significant events that play out in the book.
Surround your child with books
Surrounding your children with quality books is so important when guiding your kids towards a love of books. We have adopted the Charlotte Mason philosophy of twaddle VS. living books. We try to surround our kids with living books that are rich in literature. Books that will teach them values, language skills, imagination, and allows the book and character to come alive to the reader.
Here is SCM’s definition of a living book:
Keep in mind that a living book makes the subject come alive, because it has these four characteristics. First, it is usually written by one author who has a passion for the subject. It is usually written in narrative form, it reads like the author is telling you a story, or it may be conversational in tone, like the author is sitting across the table from you and having a chat. Second, it is well-written; it presents stories well told, not short, choppy, twaddly sentences. Third, it touches your emotions and fires your imagination; you can picture what the author is saying in your mind’s eye. And fourth, a living book contains ideas, not just dry facts. There are ideas in it that will feed your mind and heart, shape who you are as a person, and often spark other ideas of your own. When you find those four components in a book, it’s a living book.Simply Charlotte Mason by Sonya Chaffer
Here are a few of our favorite living books:
Bring Books Everywhere
We try to surround our kids with books everywhere we go. Here is a list of examples where books are present in my kids’ lives.
- During nap time and sometimes bedtime they are each allowed books to read quietly in their bed. Including the 3 year old.
- During road trips we have books in the car.
- For meetings or appointments they have a backpack full of books.
- For birthdays we buy each child a special book that is full of depth. Our hope is that someday when they leave our home they will at least have 18 books to take with them. The start of a library for their own home!
Not every situation is ideal for surrounding your children with physical books. This is when audiobooks come in to play! We currently have an hour-long drive to our church. It’s not always ideal to bring books because we have to so frequently make this drive and by the time we get home it’s late and I’m moving sleepy kids to their beds. This means books get left in the car. I’m trying to avoid that so we are using audiobooks. My kids beg for audiobooks when we get in the car at this point! Their current favorite is adventures in odyssey.
We’ve used this strategy for other situations as well. On the brink of a meltdown the other evening my husband turned on an audiobook during dinner and we all ate and listened instead of fussing at each other. It was a great reprieve after a long day.
We’ve also used it during bedtime. Sometimes if my kids are struggling to fall asleep we turn on an audiobook in their CD player to listen to as they fall asleep.
Find Books You Love
This is one of the most important things. Choosing the time and place that we read was important. Finding books that I loved as well as my kids loved was even more important. This gives you time to read something you enjoy as well as allows your kids to fall in love with the subjects that you love too.
I have always had a heart and passion for missionaries. It’s a common topic in our home as we have served all over the world in mission work. So we read about missionaries. My kids love missionaries like David Livingstone, Gladys Aylward, and Amy Carmichael. They can tell you who they were, where they served, and how they impacted the world! It’s crazy! Here is a list of our favorite books that we have worked through so far:
Side note: Missionary stories from around the world has by far been our favorite book!
If you love to read your kids will love to read. They will see that it is a good thing as they watch you. The longer my kids and I read together the more enthusiastic I become. I love seeing them grasp concepts and start to have deep conversations with me. Reading about these missionaries has sparked huge character-building growth in my kids that I never expected. I often have people compliment my children on their vocabulary and communication skills and I fully believe it is because we read. That is certainly worth being enthusiastic about!
Do you have a favorite time to read or some favorite books that you have read? I’d love to hear about them!
For more tips and tricks you visit us at Grace This Place!