Some (perhaps most) of these posts stem from various regrets, things I would tweak (or totally change) if I were just starting out as a parent, and things I wish I had learned earlier. However, this is one thing that I would do exactly the same way if I were to do it over again.
When my kids were little, I literally spent hours a day reading to them (not all at once!). My oldest son just told me the other day that those are his favorite childhood memories.
The dishes would sometimes sit an hour or two, the phone often went unanswered, and we even had occasional pajama days…but we read.
We read “living books”…books that get to your heart and stick with you for ever, funny books, biographies, character building books, adventure books.
I have so many sweet mental images of my children gathered around me, on the couch, outside on the steps on nice days, at the table, all snuggled up on a bed reading stories by the hour. I still hear their little voices saying, “Just one more chapter….please!”
Can you tell I miss those days? Okay, I will stop being nostalgic, and move on to the practical reasons for reading to our children.
There are many reasons that it is good to read to our kids.
- Reading aloud is a special bonding time.
It builds vocabulary.
It “takes” our children places, in history and around the world, that they would never be able to go in person.
It “introduces” them to people (both fictional and real) that they will never meet in person.
It can help them become good writers.
It builds their imaginations.
It helps build character, if the book choices are good ones.
It helps their creativity.
It usually makes for future readers and book lovers. All of my kids love to read, even my children who experience dyslexia. They read at a slower pace, but they nearly always have a book they are reading.
I could go on and on about this. Can you tell that I am quite passionate about the subject?
Reading outside the box
And, of course the disclaimer.
My children, even my then “hyper” son, loved to have me read to them. However, I have a couple of friends whose children had no desire to sit and listen to stories. Perhaps it will not work in your family, for this and other reasons, to read for hours. That is perfectly okay. Every family is different.
However, even a few minutes of reading, at bedtime or naptime (or when ever it works best for your family), is very profitable. If your child has trouble sitting still for stories, five minutes of fun reading may help them learn to sit longer. And there are other ways to do it, too. I had one friend that allowed her son to move all he wanted to, as long as he stayed on the couch while she read to him. Another friend would read to her son while he dug holes in the back yard. Jenn often reads to her kids as they jump on the trampoline or play with LEGOs. Sign up for library contests. Books “count” toward points even if you read the books to your child.