Once upon a time my mother would read to us every night. We would go from book to book and explore each experience and the feelings they created within us. We read everything from the hilarious Amelia Bedelia, tongue twisting Dr. Seuss, daring The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe novels, chilling Goosebumps, incredible Wizarding World of Harry Potter books (until we were old enough to read them ourselves), to any assigned reading material from school. My mother would do all the voices until she had us belly laughing then have to quiet us down until eventually we would be dreaming about wands and talking pointy hats.
Not only did this spark a growing love of reading but made memories I will never forget. Maybe it was because she was an English LIT major and a lover of reading herself, but whatever it was triggered a vivid imagination that has followed me into adulthood.
Reading can be easy for some children and like pulling teeth for others … especially in the summer. One child could read all day long while others would like to do just about anything else. (I mean ANYTHING ELSE PLEEEASE.) Of course you want them to learn to read and write proficiently, to succeed in school, the world, in life. But what’s is equally as important in my opinion is IMAGINATION. The ability of the mind to be creative and resourceful.
The beauty seen with words is unfathomable, mind blowing, endless, and something many children aren’t finding as easily in our world of advanced technology. Although reading is obviously vastly encouraged, children are more intrigued by the amazing quality of cartoons, videos, movies, and games at their fingertips. Lets face it — “screen time” is fun. Technology is the present and the future. But nurturing the imagination with good reading habits is equally, if not more important.
Hoping to spark the imaginations of my two boys, I am following my mother’s superb example while adding a few ideas of my own.
Laughter is key to making long lasting memories.
Dr. Suess is my 4-year-old son’s favorite because he laughs hysterically at me and my husband attempting to navigate the tongue tying tales. Our other current reading material are books like Brown Bear Brown Bear, First words… books filled with robots, animals, monsters, cars, and counting. Any chance we have to make funny animal noises, act like a goofy robot or monster to get those kiddos laughing is a great start to a love of reading all while making a beautiful memory.
Create a Reading Bucket List
This makes reading kind of like a game and oh so much fun! Make a grid or a list of different places, settings and people to read with and have fun making it happen. For example…
- Read to someone younger than you (like your brother or sister)
- Reading in the bathtub (that sounds silly)
- Read to the dog (which book do you think she would like?)
- Read out loud in a silly voice
- Read in another city, state or country (vacation time!)
- Read to someone over the phone, on the road, or at the park
The possibilities are endless. Let imagination be your inspiration. You never know, your child might hold dear the memory of the night you used a flashlight to read under the stars. This bucket list can be adapted to the different ages of our children as they get older too. I know we all have busy schedules, so this bucket list is great for a summer pace.
I love movies and shows based on novels. Reading books that have a movie or television adaptation can be really fun for the kids too! We encourage our children to read the book on their own, or we read it with them. Upon completion, we watch the movie together! It is fun to see if they prefer the book or the movie. This also may teach them to appreciate the art of bringing a book to life with cinema. Go for a whole series if they enjoy it!
Lead by Example
Children are much more likely to pick up a book and try to read if they see YOU taking the time to do the same. Monkey see, Monkey do! So put down the phone and pick up a good book instead!
Teach ’em Young
Children of all ages enjoy reading books, but if you start good reading habits when they are toddlers, or even babies, the expectation of taking the time to read is embedded nice and early. Hopefully this will lead to successful reading as they grow up.
Designate a Reading Area
I made a reading corner in each child’s bedroom where they can read together or by themselves. Before you know it, they are spending time in there on their own accord with books or just playing quietly. A win-win for any parent!
Summertime is busy. Hitting the pool, beach, vacations, and playing outside with friends can make it hard to squeeze in some reading time. Reading in the evenings or between outings will help our kids wind down, cool off, and relax their eager little minds. So next time you get home from the pool, relax with your kids on a pillow with a book and a little quiet time. I know after taking my little ones to the pool I am in desperate need of a some quiet time myself!
Creating a healthy balance of reading and technology is important. Establishing a routine including both quiet reading time and “screen time” (as you think is best for your child and family) is a big help. My boys love watching cartoons, so I make time for both just like the balance between healthy foods and yummy sweets!
Be involved in what they are reading especially if you are not reading to them. I imagine as they get older and start to read themselves this will become increasingly more important. Ask them to tell you all about the book. Find out what they liked, what they didn’t like, how it makes them feel and what the story is about so you can get a feel for how well they are comprehending the material.
I firmly believe that a little bit of time each day focused on reading is all it takes to get our children headed in the right direction. And maybe, just maybe, we will help their little imaginations blossom into something far greater than we ever imagined.