by Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell
Wandering through the children’s section of a library or book store is like wandering blissfully down memory lane. Books take us back to time with a favourite teacher, a comfy couch with mom and dad, or the bedroom floor – lying on one’s tummy while rereading an old favourite. Life was simple. Books made everything better.
These days, there are so many other ways that kids might spend their time. Literacy remains critical to the development of many skills. In addition, book time creates an incredible opportunity for connection with our kids; developing strong relationships, memories, and inspiration for future discussions. Reading is the gift that keeps on giving.
On the other hand, almost every parent has felt their eyes rolling back in their head at the thought of reading that SAME BOOK ONE MORE TIME!!!!
So, how do we get the most out of book time with our kids?
1. Let them “read the book”
With young children, choose books with pictures that tell a story and words that rhyme. Your kids can help you “read” the book. Have them finish the sentence using the sounds of the rhyming words and the pictures as clues. They could even tell you a version of the story by going through the pictures. Although they aren’t actually reading the book, when kids have memorized parts of a book and can pretend to read it to you, they see themselves as readers and that encourages future reading.
2. Keep books with you in the car
It’s so easy to let your electronic device entertain the kids while waiting at the doctor’s office. However, if reading is important to your family, get really clear on how much screen time is right for your kids and then use available time for reading, puzzles and other games that allow hands-on problem-solving and creativity development. Reading a book builds a child’s imagination.
3. Visit the library
Feeling trapped in the house? Getting out to the library is a great escape. Kids can look through shelves and shelves of books and discover their own treasures. In addition, story times mean that you don’t have to do all the reading and that your child learns to sit and listen while in a group.
4. Do home-reading during the day and read to them at night
It’s best to do school reading homework during the day. Waiting until a child is sleepy can be really tricky for kids who aren’t confident readers. At bedtime, read books that are slightly beyond your child’s reading level. This exposes little ears to new vocabulary and engages their imagination. It leaves them dreaming of a wonderful story when they close their eyes to sleep.
5. Use the book to start your own story
If you have read the story one time too many, ask your kids a question about the characters or their actions: “Have you ever felt that way before?” “What would you do if you saw a giant beanstalk growing up to the sky?” These are great ways to connect with conversation and build a foundation for your growing relationship.
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.