(Photo credit: Lauren Iwen with Lauren Iwen Photography // @LaurenIwen)
The benefits of reading to your kid for 10+ minutes every day abound. There’s been a ton of research into this topic, but one of the clearest indicators for me was this study into kids read to between ages 4-5. When parents read to these kids for 3-5 days per week it was equivalent to the child being 6 months older in development, and reading to them 6-7 days a week pushed that to being a year ahead in development. Children are more likely to succeed in school, be able to spell their names sooner and even count to 20 earlier. But, only a little over half of the population reads to their kids every day.
I know that we all set out with the best intentions. We want to give our kids the best chances in life, but sometimes it’s hard to know the best way to do that. Reading to your kid is guaranteed to help them, but how do you even start? Here are my top 3 tips for reading to your kid, but you can get even more advice with more detail for any age by signing up for my newsletter – you’ll get a free printable with more information and advice for reading to your kid at any age.
Top Tips for Reading to Your Kid – Find a Time That Works for YOU
Many people go with a story before bed. It can help kids unwind, and it’s usually a stretch of uninterrupted time that you can spend with your little one. But this doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s okay. There was a period when Harley would get too excited by the books and it was counterproductive for bedtime. Some people like to read with their kids after dinner, others do it in the morning. There’s no right or wrong time of day to read with your kid, just make it a habit and part of the daily routine.
Top Tips for Reading to Your Kid – Buy/Borrow Books You Also Enjoy
I’m a big believer in letting kids pick out the book they want to read. As soon as Harley could indicate preferences, I let her choose which book we were going to read together. But of course, I was the one who brought those books into our home, so while she could choose a book from the shelf or from the 3 we might take out for her to select for bedtime, I’m still the one who picks the books from the beginning.
There are so many kids’ books out there. Whether you’re looking for local flavor or something linked to your culture or background, you can find it. There are all the classic stories, but also tons of great new ones. There are a few books I remember from growing up that I still love reading with Harley, but also a bunch that are actually really weird. I’ve embraced a lot of new stories, and they are fabulous for multiple readings. Here are some of my favorite pictures books for kids.
That’s the other part. You will be reading the books multiple times in all likelihood. Kids love to have the book read again, and don’t be shy to do it. Repetition is a powerful tool and one that’s great for kids. By choosing books that you actually enjoy reading, it won’t feel like such a chore to read them twice (or three times, or five times).
Top Tips for Reading to Your Kid – Get Into It
Most kids books have all sorts of funny things going on. Whether they are totally surreal stories or have bizarre characters or silly illustrations, they are fun to read. Use different voices if you like. Exaggerate your inflections. Make big facial expressions to highlight the emotions or story. Go all out, and maybe make a bit of a fool of yourself. I promise, your kid will love it even more, and it actually can be even more fun.
These are just some of the things that I recommend doing with your kid, but there’s a whole lot more info in the free printable you get when you sign up for the newsletter. Also, feel free to check out some of my YouTube videos. They could give you some inspiration for fun books to read, as well as how to read them. Or, if you prefer, you can just let your kids watch the videos and still get some of those awesome benefits from being read to out loud.