I read to my oldest daughter, Piper, as soon as we brought her home from the hospital. I knew that she would not understand what I was saying, so I had purchased some of the original Brothers Grimm fairy tales and the Tales of Beedle the Bard. I wanted something that was kid appropriate, but also entertaining for me. I read these to her frequently and we both enjoyed them. Since then we have devoured hundreds of Board Books. Her first favorite board book was Olivia, which we read nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine times. We have read thousands of beautiful and fun picture books, thanks to our public library. I never had to introduce reading to her, because it was always part of our routine.
When my second daughter, Emi, was born, I was very concerned about creating a positive dynamic between my two daughters, so I actually didn’t start regularly reading to her until she turned one. The time when I should have been reading to Emi, I spent talking with Piper in front of her. I do not necessarily recommend this to all parents, but it worked for us. I still exposed the baby to an extensive vocabulary as my older daughter is a very expressive talker, saying words like “technically” and “preference” by four years old. Thanks Books!
When I started reading to Emi, it took three days to really establish our new routine of reading before nap and bedtime. At first, she tried to crawl away and close the books, but after the third day she got it! We sit, we look, we listen, then night-night! She loves story time now, and when I tell her it’s time she races for the bedroom.
I’m not saying that reading to your kids is an infallible trick for easy naptimes and perfect parenting, but it does help. My oldest and I went through a terrible six-month naptime war when she was two. It took 1-2 hours to get her to sleep every day and I tried everything, cry-it-out, lay with her, threaten, bribe, earlier, later… But I always stuck to our routine of reading before naptime and eventually she stopped resisting and ended up taking two-hour naps every day until she was five. I insisted on our naptime regiment and she got the sleep that she needed to physically and mentally grow and my authority is intact.
There are lists of the measurable, observable and calculable benefits of reading to your kids, but some of the most important benefits are not on those lists or are the immeasurable underlying reason for those benefits. When you cuddle next to each other and open a book, you start to erase the stress and negativity of a bad day. You can start over again in the afternoon or tomorrow after having the good experience of a great book. When you regularly read to your child, you are creating a routine, which sets expectations for your child and establishes you as the decision maker. Reading to your kids may seem like just another thing you add to your day, but it seems to seep into every aspect of your life as a parent. That is a good thing.
Let's Collaborate! What books have you seen kids connect with? Comment below!