1. Look for opportunities to read.
Tuck a book into your diaper bag to take out at the doctor’s office. Hand the preschooler a book while you’re driving in the car. Encourage your toddler to “read” the book to you or to himself. You don’t need to limit yourself to bedtime. We have “waking up” stories, too. Read at the dinner table. Read when she’s sad. Read when he’s curious. And “read” without the book. Retell their favorite stories, pausing to let them fill in what happens next.
2. Read your own books.
When it comes to parenting, nothing is more important than modelling. If you want your kids to enjoy reading, relax with a book in front of them. Or tell them which book you like reading to them and why. “Let’s read this one, it’s funny!” or “I like the way this one ended. It makes me happy.” Since my kids are still small, this one is hard for me. But hey, the bathroom is a good reading spot and we’re all crowded in there anyway!
3. Throw away your TV.
I’m only kidding about this one, kind of. My kids are drawn like little moths to any TV, and I’ve found it hard to limit their viewing. (Even a toddler can figure out how to turn it on and the arguments ensue.) But any time we are on vacation or in a place without a TV, magically they can find things to do with no problem. So tuck your TV away and get it out of their bedroom. They’ll rise to the occasion.
4. Write down some old family stories. Tell and retell often.
Does this ever happen to you: your kids, very sweetly and cutely ask, “Please, Mommy, tell us a story about when you were little?” And your mind goes completely blank, as in you-can-barely-remember-what-your-name-is blank. Spend a little time gathering family stories (there’s a hand packet in the Sharing the Joy of Reading package linked at the bottom of this page!) and you’ll be able to tell and retell your favorites.
5. Read with your kids separately.
I read this in the excellent The Read Aloud Handbook and at first I thought, No way. But I noticed that my middle child, my preschooler, was a little left out. He was squirrely and fidgety when I read to my older daughter (and sure sign he’s not getting it!) and the books I read to the baby, although they were entertaining, weren’t really pushing him. So after I finished the Sisters Grimm with my daughter I announced that Lalo and I would read a special book “just for him.” My husband read to the baby, Mae read on her own, and Lalo and I read a Magic Tree House. That was just right. He snuggled right in and loved the individual attention. He references the book in conversation and says he wants to read another. A sure sign of success! I guess my husband and I will just have to rotate through the kids until they can all listen on the same level.
Get 16 more tips over at Power of Moms and check out the Sharing the Joy of Reading package from Power of Moms website. It includes videos (with real kids!) that illustrate different techniques for encouraging your kids to love reading. It will revitalize your bedtime (and anytime) story routine!