Sit next to your children and turn off your cell phone. Give your children your undivided attention when you read books together. Whether the child is two or ten, reading together is a strong bonding experience. Certainly, the ten-year-old can read his own books, but it is so much more fun to hear Mom or Dad add crazy vocal variations to each character. When you read the book together, you are more able to discuss the content, unfamiliar words, and related questions your children may have.
Educate your children with additional information to enhance their knowledge. Ask questions about the nonfiction content, or regarding the fictional characters, action, setting, or plot. Yes, extending the length of the time spent reading will extend bedtime, but it also extends quality time with your children if you all have been busy with other activities during the day.
Use lots of inflection to increase your children’s interest. A boring monotone reading of the story may achieve your goal of getting your children to sleep by 9:00, but it won’t increase their interest in the process of reading. Stop at each punctuation mark – the commas and periods placed there by the author for the specific purpose of slowing the action.
Select books that interest them. Allow children to pick their own books. Go to the library and bring home a week’s worth of stories. For older children, only one book may be needed as they can understand the concept of a bookmark! For younger children, one book a night is usually all you need to stimulate interest and a meaningful discussion.
Summarize the story so it becomes permanent in their memory. If you read the book, and then turn out the light, you aren’t doing your job as a parent who wants his or her children to learn to love books. And don’t summarize the book for your children, let them re-tell the book in their own words. You might even keep a story journal on the nightstand so they can see the progress they have made over the weeks and months of reading together.
So use this day to begin a journey of reading with your child because your child will never lose that love of reading.
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