Reading to Children



Before I had kids, one of the things I looked forward to most about having them was the chance to read to them.  I remember reading Harry Potter as a child myself and thinking, I can’t wait to read this to my kids someday.  The new illustrated versions of the first two Harry Potter books by Jim Kay are making that wish come true earlier than I expected.  Right now I am slowly reading the Sorcerer’s Stone to my daughter for the first time and it has been an amazing adventure.

I’ve been asked why I think it is important to read to my children.  Like we cannot count the stars, I can’t name all of the reasons why I think reading to kids is important.  For one thing, the fond childhood memories of reading beautiful books can help get us through tough times in adulthood.  Since I have become a parent, I find myself reflecting upon my childhood more than ever before.  I try to remember my life at the ages my children are now to put myself in their shoes.  One of the things I like to reflect upon is when I learned to read my first book since my daughter is now beginning to read.  It was one of the proudest moments of my childhood–I read the same book over and over again until I had it memorized.  Books can bring us a sense of nostalgia and take us back in time to happy memories, even by looking at the cover of a book we had as a child that we thought we had forgotten.  I want to pass those happy memories to my children.  I want them to remember the quiet times we spent together cuddling on the couch,  in their bed before sleep, or in their treehouse escaping reality for a little while.  I want them to read some of their favorite childhood books to my grandchildren someday and pass the tradition down through time.

Obviously, the educational benefits from reading often cannot be beaten or left out as a reason for the importance of sharing this love with my children.  I tell my daughter when she gets discouraged about reading, once she learns to read well she will be able to learn about anything that strikes her fancy in the future.  The door will be open to infinite possibilities.

As much as I love reading, I think kids can become discouraged by it if they are forced to do it too often, especially if they are reading books that are not interesting to them. It becomes a chore instead of something enjoyable.  With things I would like for my children to develop a love for, I try to lead by example, more than by making them do what I want.  If I want them to love reading, I show them that I enjoy reading; if I want them to live a healthy lifestyle, I show them I enjoy physical fitness and eating healthy foods.  When it comes down to it, they will make their own choices and develop their own loves, but hopefully, my husband’s and my example will be something that makes a bit of difference.

Trips to the library can help get children interested in books.  I like taking my kids to the library every week or two to pick out anything that may look interesting to them, while also picking up a few books I would like to share with them.  Library days have become a special treat my kids look forward to.

Some of my kids’ favorite books are the Step into Reading books because they can read about their favorite Disney or Nickelodeon characters.  They also love Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss, thanks to the fun tongue twisters their dad and I struggle through.  Some of their recent favorites we have just discovered are Usborne books.  They offer options for parents to choose books based on their child’s age and interest level, featuring nearly every subject you can imagine.  I have recently bought several interactive books I plan on giving to my kids as Christmas gifts.  Fairy tales and classic children’s stories that have stood the test of time are always good choices to read to kids, seeing as they have been enjoyed by children for decades.

Let me not forget to mention babies!  It can be nearly impossible to get a baby to sit in someone’s lap to listen to an entire story being read.  That is not always a fight we will win as parents.  A way to keep them interested, I’ve found with three children, is to allow board books to be constantly out and available to them.  This way, they can grab them anytime they are interested.  Pick some cheap books you don’t mind getting ripped or chewed on, and let them look through them on their own.  My kids have, sadly, ruined several books, but they were loved well in their time before they had to be thrown out.

Regardless of what parents or children are reading, the important thing is to keep things light and fun.  If they don’t want to listen to an entire story, don’t force it.  If they are bored with books, find a book with a new topic.  Eventually, they will become more curious and interested as they age!

I hope these tips are helpful to encourage education and future memories through reading.


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