As a child I remember reading with my parents, growing up in a family of teachers we always had books in our home but one of my favorite memories is bedtime reading. There is nothing better than being cuddled up in bed, listening to your parents read you a night time story, tucking you in & then getting a good night's sleep. When I became a parent myself, I knew I wanted to share the joy of night time story time with my children as well as make reading an important part of their lives.
As parents it's our responsibility to nurture our children, teach them & love on them, reading daily is a great way to do that. Whether your snuggling up with a book on the couch or in bed after a long day, it's a great way for everyone to slow down, focus on each other, take a break from distractions like phones or electronics & just enjoy the time together.
Start out early, before my children were even holding up their own heads we were reading together, picture books are perfect for little ones, then over time we added to our collection. Personally my children love Eric Carle & Dr Seuss books, Big Brother C loves rhyming books, it's something he's grown found of over the years. It's important to start reading early on, most toddlers & preschoolers absolutely adore story time, it's a great way to teach new words, encourage learning in general, as well as help develop basic speech skills. Most local libraries have a free toddler story time at-least once a week, that is a great way to encourage social skills, introduce new books & even check out a few library books to take home if you wish.
When your reading to your children or with them, try to read books that interest them, or might encourage them. If your unsure of what style of books your child enjoys, take him/her shopping with you, if that doesn't work, pick out a few that you think would interest them & hold onto the receipt. If it doesn't work out, you could always return or exchange the book. Sometimes when I bring a new book home it will take two or three times of reading through it with my children before it becomes a regular book that they ask for. Whenever I stop by my local book store, I try to search for books suggested for my children's ages, most stores have several shelves labeled for each age/category.
It's important to express to your children that reading is fun! It's not a chore or a task, I wouldn't recommend forcing it either, it should be an activity that everyone loves! It doesn't have to be expensive either, we love shopping at Half Price Books, especially their sales or discounted rack! Even better, when we have birthday parties or family members ask what to get my children for gifts instead of toys, I suggest books, recently my daughter received a kids magazine subscription from a family member, she absolutely loves it! She receives a new magazine once a month, when it arrives, we sit down & read through it together, we talk about all of the animals that are being featured that month, shapes, hands on activity ideas & more! Some people or children may sigh at the thought of a book or magazine subscription for a gift, but I personally think it's a great idea!
Every night at story time, my children pick out two to three books each that we will read that night, it just casually became part of our bedtime routine & it's been a great bonding experience for all of us. Even though Big Brother C is non-verbal, he loves story time, if I had to rate his favorite activity of the day, that would be in his top 3 easily. He has always enjoyed reading, just within the last year he's been able to bring me his favorite books, point out his favorite letters & say them aloud (like "O" or "Y"). I can't tell you how many times a day, he brings one of his favorite rhyming books for myself or one of his therapist to read with him.
Reading to your children has so many benefits, the list goes on & on. Whether your child is 4 months or 11 years old, it's important to encourage reading in your family. It develops conversation, it could develop a lifelong love for reading, it brings you closer together, it could expand your child's vocabulary, even open up a new world for your child to explore.
How do you encourage reading in your home? What are some of your children's favorite books or authors? Do you include story time in your bedtime routine?