Winter means fewer daylight hours and more time spent inside. Rather than seeking refuge in a screen, take advantage of the season to develop your child’s appreciation of books and reading. I know it can be challenging to drag them away from the tv, computer, tablet, phone, etc. but fostering a love of reading can benefit a child for the rest of her life. Taking the time to read to your children when they’re young is huge! Reading stories helps stimulate children’s imaginations. It’s a tool you can use to teach them about life (for younger children, colors, shapes, letter, & numbers; and as they grow, emotions, coping with scary situations, growing up). Reading is also the foundation of everything that a child will do in school. As you read to a child, he builds a stronger vocabulary, learns how letters, sounds and words relate to each other, gains reasoning and prediction skills and develops a longer attention span that will all later be necessary for school.
Taking the time to sit and read with a child is also a great way to spend quality time together and strengthen your bonds of intimacy. There are so many ways to make reading a bigger part of your family life.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Cozy up together with a blanket on a cold, rainy or snowy day and read to your child.
- Make age appropriate reading materials that interest your child available in your home. You don’t have to invest a lot of money if you utilize the library or receive them as gifts!
- Let your child read books to you. If they don’t know how to read yet, let them tell you a story using the pictures in a favorite book.
- Older kids often still enjoy being read to. Choose a novel that they might not be able to read on their own and read out loud a little each day. If there’s a movie based on the book, watch it together after you finish the book.
- Get a library card and use it! Take your kids and spend time perusing the shelves and reading.
- Don’t forget to bring a few interesting titles home with you to enjoy.
- Have a 15-20 minute daily silent reading time for your kids. Let them pick out books to read on their own. Even young children who can’t yet read can look at the illustrations and recall the stories that you’ve previously read to them.
- Listen to audio books (checked out from the library, of course) on long car trips.
- Ask for books instead of toys for birthday and other gifts.
- Make a 15 minute story time part of your bedtime routine each night.
- Most libraries have a weekly story time for preschoolers. Find out when yours is and attend.
- Let your kids see you reading for pleasure, whether it’s a magazine or book…just not on a screen.
- Participate in the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program (http://1000booksbeforekindergarten.org/) at your local library.
- To get you started, here’s a list of 73 of some of the most loved and popular children’s books for kids of all ages. http://www.timeout.com/new-york-kids/things-to-do/best-kids-books