As a former elementary school teacher, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading with your kids at home. There are many proven benefits of exposing children to books at an early age, and continuing that exposure throughout their childhood (and through adulthood too!)
Reading can look different in every home and with every child. But, ALL experiences are beneficial for your child’s education and development.
Obviously, reading is a major part of our daily lives. We read emails, restaurant menus, street signs, recipes, blogs, all forms of social media, the list goes on and on. Being able to read gives us perspective into what is going on in our world. Our children are learning how to live in that same world, and reading plays an extremely important role in that process.
As children become more exposed to positive reading experiences (see below), they will develop a LOVE for reading.
Ways to Provide Positive Reading Experiences for your Children
- Read books to them: Easy! Pick up a book and read to your kids. Read in the mornings, read during the day, read at night. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just simply read to them. You can start reading to your children as early as desired. I remember, when my daughter was probably three months old, I set her in bed with me and started reading “one-word a page” books to her. My husband came in and thought I was absolutely crazy, “Are you seriously reading to her right now?” He assumed it was WAY too early to even think about reading to our newborn. But, as the months went on, and I continued reading, he quickly recognized the importance of showing your child a book. Early and continuous exposure to books will help make reading a daily part of your children’s lives, for many, many years
- Read ALL things together: As important as books are, we need to show our children there are many other things to read as well. For example, at a restaurant, read the menu “with” your child. Point to the words, and read them their meal choices. You can read street signs together (STOP is always a good place to start for little ones). You can read flyers from the mailbox, notices they bring home from school, directions for a new game. ANYTHING! Whenever you can, include your children in what you are reading. This will help them recognize an importance for reading and also encourage them to become better readers.
- Let them read to you: Another easy task! When your children start learning how to read, or start understanding what reading means, they are going to want to share their excitement with you. My daughter, who is 2.5 years old, regularly “reads” books to me. She will read books that use words to label (ex: a book with pictures of animals and the names of the animals printed underneath), but she will also read longer books we have read together (you know the ones – the ones you have read over and over and over – haha!). She only remembers a couple key words and phrases per page, but that is all a two-year-old should be able to do. Is she really “reading” the words? Recognizing the letters and putting the sounds together to make words? Absolutely not! At this stage, reading is merely recognizing pictures or memorizing words. This type of listening to our children read is just as important as listening to your first grader actually “read the words” in a book. Simply LISTEN to them read!
- Talk ABOUT what they read: Not only is it important to sit with your kids and read books, magazines, menus, etc., but we also need to TALK to our kids ABOUT the things they are reading. Our children need to learn how to comprehend what they read. (A very necessary skill for further learning). They need to know who did what, why they did it, identify problems and know how they were solved. This tip can seem challenging at first, but the more you talk to your kids about what they have read, the more comfortable you will become. The easiest way to do this is ask your child questions about the book. Let them answer and share information they are excited about. Telling you their favorite part is a great way to get kids talking about a book!
- Be a role model: Read your own book! We are constantly being watched by our children. They mimic what we say and do. If they see you reading, they will want to read! When our children watch us do something we love, they want to love it too!
- Make reading fun: There are so many ways you can make reading fun! Something as simple as giving characters silly voices will provide your children with something to laugh about. Take your kids to the library or bookstore, and let them pick out a couple new books to bring home. They LOVE going to new places and exploring new things. I know I get excited to read whenever I walk into a bookstore or library!
Now… the news you have all been waiting for!
Thanks to a company called Literati, reading has recently become even more exciting for my daughter. My brother and sister-in-law gifted my daughter a book subscription to this company for Christmas. She receives five books each time a Literati box is delivered to our door. We have one week to read and explore these new books, before making a decision on which ones we want to keep. We keep the ones we like, and return the ones we don’t like. (Think Stitch-Fix for children’s books.)
My daughter gets so excited when she sees the turquoise box sitting at our doorstep. “My books are here,” she yells. She quickly carries the box inside, and we sit on the family room floor, scouring through the new books. She truly has FUN while reading these books!
If you are interested in having your child receive new books on their doorstep from Literati (so EASY!), please use the coupon code: AMODERNMAMA to receive 50% off your first month’s membership fee.
I know I had a lot to say about this topic, but as you can see, I am very passionate about children and their education. I want nothing more than to see all children succeed and find something they love doing. Let’s get our kids excited about reading. Let’s encourage them to find that love!
What book are you and your children going to read today?