I decided to do a series of blog posts about stories to read to your children and HOW to instill a love of books. We read to our children every night. I was a teacher before having children and amassed a HUGE collection of books. It’s true we are blessed in that regard but don’t let that be an excuse to not take my advice to read to your children everyday. I am sure you have a local library. We are what is called “A Power User” of the library, you can become one too. We are in one of our local libraries at least once per week and usually take home about 10-15 books. It is a great place to begin the practice of regular reading to your children. The library will love you and you will not have to pay for books your kids like or hate. 🙂
Some Basic Steps to Begin the Ritual of Reading to your Child Daily:
1. Pick books from the library or your own collection to read to your child based on what you already know about their interests. Pick a book or two for each child. If you don’t have a collection then head to the library and ask the librarian for a few suggestions for each child. Take them all home.
2. Give them a choice: When it come time in your day/night to read set out two books at a time and ask which one your child would like.
3. Gauge their reaction while you read. Did they stop talking all together? Did they ask lots of questions? Did they seem to not care? Use this information to guide your approach. If they seem totally uninterested and you can’t guide them to pay attention either put the book down and offer a different one or go through the book together and use the pictures to tell the story. If a child isn’t used to reading books it might take time to understand what is so great about books! Teach them! Don’t get angry if you can help it.
4. Reading TO your child is not the same as having them read to you. A love of books can be instilled if there is great pleasure in the act of reading. Read to them and they will hear what excitement or sadness sounds like. They will learn how a story is told and they will delight in spending time with you. If you make them read to you (especially if they don’t want to) it is a chore for them. Yes, children learn to read with practice, and there is surely a time for that, but they will want to learn to read if they love to be read to- I can promise you that.
5. Show the book love to instill a love of books. You must do your best to read with great appeal. And remember not to take any of your child’s lack of interest personally. If you keep this up they will beg you to read to them in the future. They will try to read like you too using the same voices even, that you may give to different characters.
6. Not every awesome parent wants every book their kids likes to read every day/night. Do not forget that. It isn‘t always fun but it will make a difference even if you only read one book a day/night.
Building Your Collection:
Build your collection by buying favorites you borrowed from the library. Get books that you children keep asking to read again and again and again. Keep a list of favorites or a stack on the bedside (as we do). Chances are your child will change their mood about as often as your books are due at the library. Our rotation of favorites is quite small and completely changes about twice per month. I believe this is quite typical and you will see this too if daily reading is practiced in your home.
A 4 year old’s Current Favorites:
To start with, the books I am about to present are books we found at the library. My son loved them so much that we are buying them with a gift card we got this Christmas. If it weren’t for our regular library patronage, I am not sure how long it would have taken us to discover these books.
Here are my 4 year old’s current favorites. These are two books by Keith Baker. One is called “1-2-3 Peas” and the other is “LMNO Peas”. My son adores the pictures of tiny peas with human characteristics doing all sorts of things on each of the large pages of the book. For example in “1-2-3 Peas”, the peas are being counted out throughout the book starting at “One pea searching” up to “100 peas counting…” Each pea in the picture is performing the action corresponding to the number, and there are as many peas on the page- which makes the book especially fun. In “L M N O Peas”, the peas all have different occupations based on the letter of the book. The peas on the A page are acrobats, artists and astronauts.
I think the pictures of tiny peas is really captivating. If your child is a fan of the pictures in Richard Scary books, then these two books might be of interest to your preschooler. Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go” is a favorite of my 4 year old as well. The pictures are big and FULL of things happening. My son loves to examine the pictures and find all the fun things in the same way he loves to look at the “Peas” books by Keith Baker.
There is another book in our house by Ken Baker called “No Two Alike” and it is very different then the Peas books. It is not a favorite. That goes to show you that sometimes having a particular author that a child likes at some point, doesn’t mean that your child will like all of their books, or as a parent you will like them either. “No Two Alike” does not have the same type of captivating effect on my son. That goes to show that the same author can write differently for different audiences. Just because you love or dislike something by an author doesn’t mean you or your child will feel the same way about a different book they have written.
I’ll be back soon with favorites of my 18 month old son. I will also share why repetition is a GOOD thing when it comes to reading to children.
What do you think? Have you tried these books? Do you read to your children daily? I’d love to hear your thoughts.