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Brush off the Dust
Are the books on your bookshelves gathering dust? Between doing chores and running around, it may seem impossible to find time to sit and read a story with your child.
"I think that the most important thing parents do ... is to teach [kids] to love books and stories so much that they will be very motivated to learn to read, even when it is a difficult task for them," says Dr. Pamela High, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption and Dependent Care.
Incorporate Reading Everywhere
However, knowing reading is important and finding time to read are two different things. With all you have on your plate, sometimes it’s hard just to get dinner on the table and fit in time to sleep. You must find creative ways to make reading part of your daily routine and help it stand out from the other activities that vie for your kids' attention. Read on for our eight tips to incorporate reading into everyday activities.
Surround Your Child with Books
Pull forgotten stories off of the bookshelf stuck in the dark corner of your home, brush of the dust and bring them everywhere: the doctor’s office, the park and even a few to live in the car. Mix a collection of classics into the toy box, and set books by his bed. By putting storybooks in your kid’s everyday space, you’ll help him connect reading with other everyday activities.
Set a Time to Read
You schedule doctor’s appointments, soccer practice and bedtime, but do you schedule time for reading? Keep books from getting lost in the business of your day by designating a time to read. Tell a tale at bedtime or enjoy a book after lunch. It only takes a few minutes to curl up on the couch and share a story with your child.
Create a Space for Reading
Sure, you can read a book on the couch or while cuddled up in bed with your little one, but having a space just for reading makes it even more special. Turn an empty closet or dark corner into a reading nook. Add a comfy chair or pillows to make it inviting and your child will start spending hours reading in the space.
Visit the Library
You don’t have to go to the library every day, but you should make regular trips. Challenge your child to find seven books–one for every day of the week–or bring home a stack and try to read them all before you head back again. Your little learner doesn’t have to have all the fun—be sure to sneak a romance novel or thriller into the stack for yourself.
Make Connections to Books
Does your child remind you of Max from Where the Wild Things Are? Has he ever had a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” like Alexander? Point out the connections between your child and his favorite characters, and share stories to help teach important lessons and get through difficult situations. Hand your child a potty-training classic such as Once Upon a Potty or Everyone Poops while he’s sitting on his throne. Pick up a book such as The Tenth Good Thing about Barney or I’ll Always Love You to help your kid cope when Fido passes away.
Being able to point out every fast food restaurant within a mile of your house can be a good thing! Words are all around you. While riding in the car, challenge your child to read as many fast food signs, license plates and billboards as possible. Go through the kitchen and examine product labels or peruse a book of recipes together. Anywhere you find words, you can read.
Label Objects in Your Home
Make it impossible for your little one to avoid reading. Write the words of objects in your home on plain index cards and tape the index cards to those objects. Label everything from doors and windows to favorite toys. Stick to inanimate objects though; the family cat probably won’t enjoy having an index card taped to his furry back!
Read and Play
Turn reading into playtime. Dolls and action figures can double as popular story characters, and a favorite stuffed animal can be the star of your budding storyteller’s latest made up tale. You don’t have to have a book in hand to retell a story or make up your own version of a classic fairy tale with your child.