Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting children to love reading is as easy as Do-Re-Mi.

My toddler with his booksMy boys are all about books. They both love to read stories and will sit and listen to their favorite books being read over and over again. My children are 3 years-old and 1 year-old and both of them have a love of literature that blows me away.

I was not one of those women that read, sang songs, or played music to my babies while they were growing in my belly. I know that once their little tiny ears develop they can hear what is going on outside the womb; I was just never truly comfortable engaging in this activity. I spoke to my children while they took up residence in my body… but that was about it. So my children’s love of stories did not come from me reading to them before they were born.

I guess this love of literature really started when my children were about six months old. Around six months of age I stopped feeling so overwhelmed with the daily requirements of keeping my children alive. I started getting restless with our daily life and started looking for fun ways to actively engage my children. Since both of my boys started to truly be more mobile around 6 months of age I needed a way to entertain them, so I started with board books.

I picked some simple board books that were easy to read and provided an easy cadence that my children would pick up on. I wanted stories that had rhyme and repetition as well as pictures that were bright and cheerful! I sat down on a comfy chair, snuggled up to my little peanuts, and started to sing my way through story after story. The more sing-song-like a book was, the more my children enjoyed it.

I know - singing- sounds like it could be a very scary activity. Especially if you do not feel like you have the best voice. Let me clue you in to something… your children don’t care if you miss a note or if your voice is flat. They do not care if you are off key or if you sound like Kermit the frog. Your voice is the most beautiful voice your children have ever heard and hearing it is soothing for them {until they hit the “how embarrassing” stage of childhood}. So sing to your heart’s content and bask in the adoration of your children, they do eventually grow up and get embarrassed by you.

If I read a story instead of sing it my children get up and move onto something else. They will not sit still through the entire story. My children prefer me to sing the board books. They will hand me book after book after book if I sing it. Some books are a little too long and some books simply cannot be sung, but a majority of children’s board books are easy to sing and have a natural rhythm that is easy to pick up on. My children adore Dr. Seuss board books, Bill Martin bear books, and anything by Eric Carle.

Every day we have a half hour of quiet time where we sit and read books before dad gets home from work. This is our unwind time that helps us to settle down and get ready for the evening activities. It is also a great way for my family to simply enjoy a peaceful activity that does not center on bouncing off the walls! I look forward to quiet time all day long and I know the boys do too. They love to read and they love to sing and dance. Putting a little music into our story time just made it that much more fun!

My children bring books with them wherever they go. It is their quick and easy transportable entertainment. Our newest obsession is a gift we received from the grandparents – a Toy Story board book collection including a carrying case. How much more transportable can you get? The kids love it and the books are short and easy to sing. After we read these books we toss a couple of movie quotes around and sing a little of “You’ve got a friend in me.” It is a fun family friendly activity that entertains us all.

What do you do to try and instill a love of literature in your children?

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