Recently I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with children’s books author Kaye Umansky (‘Pass The Jam Jim’, The ‘Pong Wify’ Series, ‘I Don’t like Gloria’). The workshop was aimed at the parents of a school that my mum works at. Although I was invited due to my own aspirations to publish a children’s book I have co-written with fellow Dad Network dad Stephen Morris (Seb’s Web –more information coming soon!) I was able to learn the secret of ‘Teaching your Kids to Love Books’.The secret is surprisingly simple. Read to them!
It’s never too soon to start reading to them
Reading to my children is something I have done from the day we found out my wife was pregnant! The benefits have been recognised at every stage of my son Oliver’s (3 years old) development. I hadn’t read aloud since I was at school, but when I first started reading it was primarily so that when born Oliver would recognise my voice. I felt silly just talking to my wife’s belly, so reading books provided me with some framework and made me feel a little less awkward. If you are feeling the same way about reading aloud, stick with it. Three years of practice has taught me just to let go of your feelings of embarrassment and get involved in the book. Create voices for the characters and immerse your children within the fantasy world provided by books…
There’s nothing like a real book
As mentioned above my mum has spent the last 23 years working in an infant school assisting children with speech and language. She told me that many children start school without having ever picked up a book. Many do not know how to turn pages. This shocked me, but I think it is partly due to the digital age that our children are growing up in. This is easily solved by providing opportunities to handle books as soon as possible. There are plenty of baby-friendly books on the market (cloth, board, bath books) by providing opportunities for babies to play with the books they get a feel for them. Otherwise the first story they ‘read’ may very well be on an e-reader. I have nothing against Kindles, but I do believe they take part of the magic away from reading, and they’re not great for their development when they start school as you can’t turn a real page on a Kindle! Board books are great and fairly robust, but they are not invincible so as they get treated a little more vigorously, they will break (it’s a great parenting lesson when their favourite book has to go in the bin!)
Are they even listening!?
Recently Oliver has started memorising the books he enjoys. Every night before bed time he insists on ‘reading’ to us before we read to him.
This is a great example of how much they take in when you read, children are like sponges and need (to quote Johnny 5) ‘Input’.
As Oliver and his brother Harry grow we would like to encourage reading. We got the idea from Pinterest to create a reading area for them. A corner of their bedroom to store and read their books. Any excuse for meatballs, we jumped in the car and headed for Ikea!
The area has yet to be completed as we plan to replace the Rory pillow with matching ones and make a directional sign with directions to:
- Mr McGregor’s Garden
- 221B Baker Street
The plan is to make the area as magical and tranquil as possible so they can really immerse themselves when reading.
My final tip for teaching your kids to love books is simply to love books yourself. If you read, let your children see you read. If you are a reader and get a spare five minutes while they are playing get your bedtime book out. Read it in front of them, answer any questions about it and embrace their interest (unless of course you are currently reading Fifty Shades Of Grey or similar!) Love reading to them! You cant fake interest (children know!) so get involved, create voices, if they don’t come across right, laugh with your child! ENJOY IT!