I won’t bury the lede. Reading to your kids every night is one of the best habits to have.
Start immediately after they are born, before they can hold their head up, before they can crawl, before they can read. The earlier the better.
Always be reading above their own reading level.
The dividends are vast and varied:
- time together without the TV
- increased vocabulary and cognitive development
- shared memories and inside jokes
- practice for your voice
- good stories to shape your children’s imagination
How do you start?
Read what YOU Like
Some books are better than others. There are classics that everyone should read and be familiar with.
But choose what you like.
This is the surest way to get excited about reading to your kids, and if you are excited, they will sense it. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. Pick something and start.
Even a comic or graphic novel works. Just don’t make them your full diet.
Pair Reading Time With Other Good Things
Let them eat their favorite snack or dessert. Make it so they associate reading time as fun time. Don’t associate the good with the bad.
If you are always cutting off video game time or TV time, it will be hard to gain any momentum. They will be whining and complaining. It will be a struggle every time.
So pair reading time with something good that you know they love. They will eventually love reading time, too.
Don’t be Strict
Let them draw. Or play with the dog. Or wrestle with each other (boys especially).
You would be surprised at how much they are paying attention, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Above all, don’t let reading time be synonymous with “Daddy gets frustrated” time.
Pick a Consistent Time
And stick to it.
Do it right after dinner, while you already have everyone together. Or right before they go to bed.
Pick a time where it feels natural.
Don’t force your kids to sit through 2 hours of your reading when they can’t even sit still for 10 minutes.
Don’t shoot for the moon before you have tied your shoelaces.
It’s ok to read for just 15 minutes. Eventually, your kids will start begging you for more.
Try these to start:
- Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson
- Hank the Cow Dog series by John R. Erickson
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi
- Cardboard by Doug TenNapel
All of these are quick reads, full of adventure and humor.
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