Now I know that many of these suggestions seem obvious and may have some of you shaking your heads wondering why I have even spent time sharing them and maybe that is true. But some of them didn’t occur to me right away; I either learned them the hard way (4, 6, & 9) or had them suggested to me (1,2 &7) to discover that they were really important. Reading with your kids however you do it is always great, mostly I see these as simple ways of enhancing the pleasure of reading.
1. Read the Title and Author/Illustrator: this not only gives a personal sense to reading but it also helps them (and you) remember the book later. There are so many stories from my childhood that I remember the story but not the title or author.
2. Take time to ask and answer questions and to look at pictures.
3. Let the child tell you the story.
4. Introduce new books slowly. Aneliese rarely wants to read a new book right away if she didn’t pick it out (of course she is like this with new clothes too). Sometimes when I want to introduce a new book, we look at it, talk about it, read a short bit but don’t force it. Usually, after it has been around for a time, Aneliese is ready to read it.
5. Relate the stories to daily life if possible. We had just read Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow before going to the Custom Woolen Mill and Aneliese made and loved the connection. Try food that you read about or look for animals from stories. Read books that connect to the past or that connect with other cultures or ways of life.
6. Choose books where characters (especially the main) act and speak in ways that you wish your children to emulate or learn from. I have noticed that Aneliese (and other kids) pick up quickly on undesirable behaviour and speech for characters in books, even animals. I don’t mean to only have books where everyone is perfect and say the right thing, but Little Miss Mischievous being unkind and calling rude names just might end up being used by your sweet child.
7. Be brave! Try different voices and expressions. Get into the story and make it come alive. Even if it feels silly, chances are that your kids will love it and really they see us at our worst anyways!
8. Read, Read, Read! Even if your kids are able to read on their own, keep reading to them. I have organized and facilitated reading programs and done one on one tutoring with kids as early as grade 2 all the way to grade 12 and I am convinced that if the reading that parents did with their very little children continued by half that there wouldn’t be nearly the dislike and difficulty with reading as there is with many children (and adults) nor such a need for remedial programs. Reading is also a way to connect with kids. Think about it, usually with younger kids, they snuggle in to be read to. I remember sitting close to my mom even when I was older as she read to us. Reading can also provide an area of common interest.
9. Choose books that are age appropriate. I started reading Charlotte’s Web to Aneliese and quickly realized that she was not mentally or emotionally ready when she became fixated upon the fact that Ferns father was going to “do away” with him using the axe. Having said that I do try to read short parts of older level books, I just choose more carefullyJ.
10. Set the example by reading. Statistics show that kids whose parents are readers tend to be readers. If you are some one who doesn’t like reading, start simple. Even a book that you remember from your childhood or a book that relates to an interest that you have.
11. Fix books right away. Aneliese does not tear books; books that had small rips in them before she had read them stayed the same. However, if there is a small rip, Cecily will finish it off. She has never torn something that wasn’t already started though, so we always try to tape our books as soon as they have a tear (Aneliese will make sure of that) using clear packing tape.
12. Get out and live. Reading is great as are books, but there is more to life than that. Balance reading with play, art, work, and physical activity outdoors. This was a challenging one for me because I would read and retreat into my own little world. Even now, it is often the easiest thing to do with my girls is to read and while it is great, it just isn’t enough.
Coming Next Book Lists!! (I love book lists:)