Reading: Making the Most of Storytime

parentingages and stages

One of the best things a parent can do to help their children succeed is to read with them each day. And while the literacy benefits are undeniable, reading aloud is also a great way to bond and spend quality time with your child. My favorite time of day is each night, before bed, when my four-year-old snuggles up next to me in her pajamas, after carrying in a heaping pile of books she wants to read (we read three or four, not the whole stack she brings in!).

Making the Most of Storytime

Here's How To Do It

  • Ham it up. Give the characters different voices, change the tone of your voice, have fun with it. (The "Pigeon" series by Mo Willems is great for this, because the pigeon goes through a whole range of emotions in the span of the story.
  • Get close. Have your child sit on your lap or right next to you. Cuddle up and enjoy the story. (This one will probably happen anyway!)
  • Ask questions. "What do you think will happen next?" "How would you feel if that happened?" It gets children thinking and is a great jumping point to conversations. You can also encourage them to participate in repetitive parts of a story.
  • Be ready to read it again—because if it's a favorite, you will probably know the words by heart before long. After you've read a story several (hundred?!) times, try to switch things around, or skip a part all together. Your child will love to correct you.
  • No interruptions. No, not from the child. Turn off the TV, put the cell on silent, whatever it is can wait. Just think of the great message you're sending to your child: You are the most important thing to me. Your undivided attention is the greatest gift. (Really!)
  • Change the setting. Reading a book in a different place can be a fun experience. How about under a tent? In the backyard? Or a reading picnic at the park?
  • Child won't sit for a book? Don't worry. Not all kids have the attention span yet. Try picking stories of things they are interested in or an interactive book (lift the flaps or pop-up). But don't force it; storytime should be fun, not stressful. If your child doesn't want to sit, continue reading; they might just be listening while they're doing other things. If not, put the book away and try again another time.
  • Reading the words isn't too important. Make up your own words to go along with the pictures if the story is too long. You can encourage your child to make up their own words to tell a version of the story too.
  • Relax. So you don't ask questions during the story or you don't feel comfortable acting out the characters? Do what works for you! The goal is spending time with your child, so don't fret about anything else and just enjoy the time together.
What are you doing to make storytime fun with your kids?
Image courtesy of Flickr
Emma Craig is a stay-at-home mom to a four-year-old girl. She blogs at P is for Preschooler about activities and topics relating to toddlers and preschoolers.
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