Reading aloud to children is a great way to create a sense of connection. Research shows that not only do both kids and parents enjoy read-aloud time, it also does wonderful things for a child’s development and literacy skills. Parents of children ages 0-8 recognize that children reap great benefits from the experience of being read aloud to on a regular basis. However, a recent survey by ReadAloud.org found that just 34 percent of respondents read aloud to their children for a minimum of 15 minutes each day. Could it be our busy lives getting in the way? If you're really struggling to find opportunities to read, here are a few ideas that may come in handy for those especially busy days …or months…or years.
Read in the car
Listen to an audiobook together while on the road to school or sports practice. Check out Hoopla Digital for 1000s of children-appropriate audiobook options. This service is free for Lennox and Addington residents using their library cards. Simply download the app, set up account using your library card number credentials (contact your local library if you are unsure) and access an awesome array of titles that you can listen to in your car via Bluetooth connection. You’ll find favorites such as Pete the Cat, Captain Underpants and Geronimo Stilton. If you don’t have a Bluetooth equipped car, we also have tons of juvenile books on CD in our physical library collection.
Take advantage of waiting times
Carry a book in your handbag, stroller or keep a small collection in the car so you can always take advantage of time spent waiting. For example, you might read while waiting for your order at a restaurant or at the doctor’s office.
Look for time in your own family routine
Storytime doesn’t have to happen at bedtime if it doesn’t work for you. It is understandable that pushing back a bedtime in order to read may result in a tired, grumpy kid. If this is an issue you run into, why not read to your children during breakfast or even at bath time? It’s not about when you do it, it’s about having the routine and not feeling like it is a chore to be rushed.
Include older children
On those days when you simply overtaxed with chores and other activities on the go, invite an older brother or sister to read to your youngest child(ren). This works to foster a connection between siblings, as well as provides your older child with valuable read-aloud practice.
You are not restricted to book reading
With older children, it can also be beneficial to share interesting magazine articles or news stories. Reading these at the dinner table, for example, can spark insightful discussions about local or societal issues.
Every minute counts
When it comes to babies, it is perfectly acceptable to start with a minute or two of reading. Infants have trouble focusing on any one activity for a sustained amount of time, so it makes sense to introduce read-aloud times incrementally. Look for board books, interactive tactile books and books with flaps, textures and other fun surprises…and don’t be discouraged if it only holds your child’s attention for a minute or two. Attention spans increase with age and practice.
Books, books everywhere!
Stock your home full of books. This is not necessarily expensive to accomplish. Visit your library (library cards are free!) and/or look for books at thrift stores or yard sales. Once you have a house brimming with books, don’t bother shelving everything neatly. Keep books in in baskets, on the tops of tables or, or on a shelf next to your couch. When books are stored within reach, you (and your child) will be more likely to read when you have a couple of idle minutes.
If your family is missing some valuable read-aloud time, adding just one of these ideas to your daily routine will provide a great opportunity make those special connections with your children and reap reading’s far-off developmental dividends.
Article originally published in The Napanee Beaver.