As a child, my mother read to me every night. Her rule was 20 minutes of reading for every child at bedtime. Even when she traveled out of town, she would leave behind a cassette tape of herself reading. We would follow along with the book in our hands.
Not surprisingly, reading to my daughter seemed natural – and is beneficial to her.
So in honor of my mother, I drafted a few tips for parents who haven’t hopped on board the Reading Train.
1) Read Together Every Day.
Every. Single. Day. Bedtime is ideal because you can relax and snuggle up on pillows. If your schedule doesn’t allow that, then read during breakfast. Read immediately after school or daycare.
Make the time, because 20 minutes a day can have a lifelong impact.
2) Don’t Rely on Screens.
Many gadgets or apps will “read” to your child. Those devices cannot take your place.
Your child needs to hear your voice, see your lips move and watch you trace words and turn pages. A computerized voice does not have the same effect.
3) Mix It Up. I can recite “Moo, Baa, La La La” by Sandra Boynton in my sleep because my daughter wanted to read it every day until it “mysteriously disappeared” from the bookshelf for a while.
Visit the library to keep your book selections fresh. If you are stuck with a favorite, make it fun for yourself. Use silly accents or crazy voices. Your kid will enjoy it and you won’t get as bored.
4) Bring Reading Into the Real World.
Point out signs in the grocery store, read billboards, spell out traffic signs for your kids. Let them see how reading is used in daily life so they understand the importance.
5) Don’t Stop Just Because They Can Read.
My 6-year-old reads on her own, so I could easily say, “You’ve got it covered. Here is a book, good night!”
But we still read together at bedtime. Sometimes she reads to me, other nights she wants me to do it all.
I’m not rushing to the day she no longer wants me to read to her, and I hope you won’t either.
I'm so grateful for CeCe's aunties who also recognize the importance of reading together.