We love books around here! I am so thankful that my mom read to me when I was little, took us to the library often, and kept books around the house. Books have been, and continue to be, an important part of my story and one of the tools that God is using to shape my heart and help me see Him.
I would like to share some ideas for how you can foster a love of reading in your little ones.
1. Don’t wait!
Don’t wait to start reading to your little one until you think they will understand. Reading to them causes them to hear more words and hearing more words actually helps them gain understanding AND communicate back to you sooner. You can begin reading to your sweet little one from day one. Your baby loves the comforting sound of your voice!
2. Books, books everywhere!
Put books everywhere! In the living room. In the bedroom. In the bathroom. EVERYWHERE. Make sure they are placed where kids can get to them. They can be in baskets or on shelves, just make them accessible.
We put our daughter’s books on the lowest shelf of our bookcase where she could get them whenever she wanted. We taught her that this was her shelf that the rest of the books were daddy’s books (He has the most books in our home). Yes, sometimes she pulled them all off the shelf and we had to clean them up later, but it was worth it when we would come around the corner and find our 9 month old flipping through pages, and later our 1.5 year old “reading” out loud to herself.
3. Read. Read. Read.
Try for 30 minutes a day. This doesn’t have to be all at once. It could be 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. If 30 minutes seems impossible, start with 5 and add a minute every couple of days. If you have a wiggly one who doesn’t want to sit still to listen, try reading to them during meal time.
4. Make it a habit
Build reading into your day by setting certain times of day to read together. This happened accidentally for us. Unfortunately, I had to stop nursing early and switch to a bottle, so as soon as our little girl could hold the bottle herself, we used feeding time as reading time. Before we knew it, she was starting help turn the pages and bringing us books to read to her.
Even after she gave up the bottle and switched to a sippy cup, we kept the routine of having a little milk and reading books after nap time. She is almost three now, and this is still one of my favorite times of day. One of the first things she asks me when she wakes up from her nap is, “Mommy, will you read me a book?” We share some post nap snuggles, a warm cup or milk for her and tea for me, and a giant stack of books.
5. Rhythm, Rhyme, and Song
Language can be beautiful and fun, so choose books that sound good! Our brains are wired to look for patterns and our hearts for beauty, and children are no different. Their amazing little minds are busy searching for meaning, predictability, and beauty.
Some of our favorite rhyming books are:
– There’s a Wocket In My Pocket and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
– Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw
– Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont
– Barnyard Dance and Moo, Baa, La, La, La by Sandra Boynton
– All of Baby Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler
– Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
– Any book of Nursery Rhymes
Some of our favorite books to sing are:
– He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson
– We Love to Sing Along by Caroline Jayne Church
– The Wheels on the Bus by Raffi
– Old MacDonald, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and others by Jane Cabrera
– She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain by Emily Coplon
– The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Keats
6. Let them see YOU reading!
Kids learn to love what you love! If they see you reading, they will want to do it too! You can start family independent reading time after dinner. Everyone sits down with their own book, including the littles.
7. Library & Story Time
We love our library and story time. This is a great way to be with other children, learn about new books, and have someone else show your little one that books are fun!
8. Put books in the car
As soon as S. could turn pages, we began keeping basket of books in the car and giving them to her even on the short trips the grocery store or around town.
When she was teething and started trying to eat the books, we were at a loss for what to do…until we discovered Highlights Hello magazine for ages 0-2. These were perfect for her little hands to turn the pages and they are pretty much indestructible.
Added bonus: teaching them to look at books in the car will keep them occupied for long trips!
9. Allow books in bed
Around two years old, we let S. have books in bed. Honestly, this was partly a tactic for me to extend nap time by giving her something to do if she woke early. Now at almost 3, she “reads” to herself until she falls asleep. One night we heard her singing Baa, Baa, Black Sheep at the top of her lungs as she looked at her nursery rhyme book.
10. Make it fun!
Have a fun snack or beverage just for read aloud time. Read books that YOU like. Do silly voices. Make animal sounds. Add motions and movement. Laugh. Your enjoyment is contagious.
Some of my favorite silly books are:
– Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss
– Where’s my T-R-U-C-K? and Wet Dog by Karen Beaumont
– Blue Hat, Green Hat and What’s Wrong Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton
– Rubia and the Three Osos by Susan Middleton Elya