Here are some great ways to weave children’s stories into your child’s daily routine.
Create a special daily time to read a book with your child.
In our home, our special group reading time is just before bedtime. While it’s meant to be a way to wind-down from the activities of the day in preparation for sleep, I confess that we often get so involved in a great children’s story that it often has the opposite effect. After all, an adventure about pirates on the high seas complete with hidden treasure, a ship’s cook who produces food only fit to be used as cannonballs, talking parrots, enemy pirates, people in need of rescuing … doesn’t really quieten the imagination ready for sleep. Although, such children’s stories do provide plenty inspiration as far as dreams go!
Create time for independent reading.
Even young children need time to ‘read’ books on their own. This doesn’t mean that you expect young children to read the words but they can read the book by looking at the pictures. Create opportunities, during your daily routine, for your child to sit down with books. In this way, your child will begin to develop an attitude that picking up a book is a natural, routine thing to do. This is a great first step towards reading.
In our house, we do this after a meal (after the sticky fingers have been washed, of course!). This gives me a chance to finish cleaning up in the kitchen while knowing that my boys are doing something positive (and not getting themselves into something they shouldn’t be).
We have an area that is specifically set up for reading. Within this area there are boxes of library books, so the boys can help themselves to children’s stories, as well as a mattress with some cushions that just cry out “Come and Read!”
Make the most of quiet times
If there’s a quiet period during the day, bring out a children’s stories and read to your children. For example, while the kids are finishing off their lunch, read a book to them at the table. (If your house is anything like ours, the adults are always finished eating before the children – unless it’s a meal of noodles!)
Play children’s stories on CD
While DVDs are a favourite among children, audio stories have their own unique benefits. Audio recordings of stories are great for strengthening listening skills and imagination. Instead of relying on printed pictures to ‘see’ what is happening in the story, children have to create their own illustrations within their imaginations.
Audio stories can be listened to in the car, before rest times or during quiet play times.
Take a book outside … and read it there!
When we think of books, we often think of inside time. However, books can be carried anywhere … including outside. While the park is a great place to play, the time can be enriched by a story session during a drink/snack break. Fresh air, the shade of a tree, a comfortable blanket, a good book, great company … what more could you ask for?
Develop extension activities which are related to a story.
With a little imagination, it is easy to develop activities that extend on the story. For example, after reading a story about “Boris, the Spider”, make some spiders out of pipe cleaners, egg cartons and wool. Or after reading “Little Red Riding Hood”, cook some biscuits together to take to someone else.
Discuss these ideas about what you could do with your child. In this way, you use language, thought processes and problem-solving skills to make the concepts within the book come alive in real life.
For some story extension ideas, have a look at “Story Extension Activities for Children’s Books”.
Make up a bag of books to keep in the car.
These are great to bring out during journeys. However, if your child is prone to motion sickness, play audio stories instead of giving them physical books to read.
A bag of books is great for those times when you find yourself waiting. For example, when you’re waiting to pick Daddy up from the ferry (yes, we live on an island), or when you’re stuck in a traffic jam (which we don’t experience on our island).
Carry a book in your bag.
Bring a book out and read it to your child when you are riding on public transport. This can make all the difference in the world to a pleasant, relaxed, entertaining trip, and one that’s filled with a squirming child who can’t wait to get out!
The more you can incorporate reading into your daily life in a relaxed and fun way, the better. You’ll be investing in your child’s future because reading is the key to your child’s future. Have fun reading children’s stories together today!