I grew up a bookworm. I loved diving into stories, spending hours with the worlds and wonderful characters I met in books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Anne of Green Gables. When I had kids, I wanted to share that love of books and stories by reading with them.
You might think my house is some kind of kids’ literary salon, but it isn’t. (That’s my sisters’ homes. Not kidding about that.) You might worry that reading this post will make you feel guilty for not reading to your kids more.
Here’s the truth:
Sometimes I’ve been too tired to read to them or looked for the shortest book on their bedside tables. I feel guilty for all the times I’ve put tv on for the kids instead of reading with them. My kids don’t always feel like reading with me anyway. And my older son lost faith in my literary recommendations when he read and hated Little Women, one of my two favorite books of all time.
I have still loved the time I’ve spent reading with my kids. Here are some of the things that have worked for us at times in the younger years. I hope they’ll give you a few ideas as you find ways to share books with your children.
With my oldest, I had a plan, and it worked. I would read each picture book to him three times. The first time, I’d point at the pictures to help him understand what was happening in the book. Then I’d read it and point to the words on the page, to help him get the idea that the marks on the page meant the words. The last time I’d just read it. (This is what it looks like when your mom is very analytical.)
He’d sit for an hour or more this way. So far, so good.
My daughter loved books, but she wanted to be in the driver’s seat, holding the book and turning the pages herself. Forget reading a book three times–she usually wouldn’t sit and snuggle while we read a book to her once. (She would snuggle watching tv. One reason we watched more tv with her . . . ) Bedtime was the most reliable time for reading to her.
Refreshment and Rest Reading
My youngest wasn’t a huge fan of being read to, either. After I read to him while he ate a cookie at Starbucks, though, he fell in love with what he called “cookie book time.” When snacks or meals come out, he’s ready to read.
We also read books before afternoon quiet time and bedtime. If there’s something you want your child to do at bedtime (like brush his or her teeth), you can offer an extra book as an incentive. This is a win-win, since your child is doing what you want and gets more reading time with you.
Roadblocks and Reading
Did I mention sharing stories? Sometimes my kids have wanted books that didn’t have a story. (Maybe this doesn’t horrify you the way it did me.) One in particular wanted me to read pages out of an animal encyclopedia. There were times I felt like begging, “Please, something with a plot!”
My kids have hit stages when they didn’t want to sit down for a book at bedtime. They wanted to play. Sometimes I’d read while they played, so they’d still be getting a story. Sometimes (depending on how tired I was) I’d give up on reading and move on with tucking them in.
Reading in Albuquerque
Reading time can happen in your house on the sofa, at the kitchen table, or snuggled up in bed. Albuquerque offers even more opportunities for reading, though! Try the children’s area at your branch of the Public Library—there are often reading nooks just the right size for kids. I like reading at Starbucks, while my husband reads to our youngest at Dunkin Donuts. Pick somewhere that you and your child like.
Your child may also enjoy storytime at the Public Library, The National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Balloon Museum (free admission for storytime!), or the BioPark. Check out this list of storytimes in our area.
What are your favorite ways to read with your kids? Add a comment and let us know!