When I was pregnant I would prop a book in front of my tummy and imagine one day curling up with my little girl and reading all the stories with her. I may have dreamed about this well before I knew I was pregnant the first time. I may have been that crazy lady who started collecting books for one day and who hoarded her own childhood books.
Now that I have two little munchkins and more storybooks than I can count, we spend all day long reading story after story after story. We even have marathons where I read my own books and they pretend to read their storybooks.
Ha, just kidding.
While we do have a household filled with books, both for adult and children, storytime is generally reserved for bedtime and only for the older kiddo (who is almost four). I’ve heard stories from friends whose children want to be read to all day or who are happy “reading” books to themselves or their stuffed animals. I didn’t inherit these children. Nonetheless, we still to bring reading into our house and it’s something I’m constantly striving to do better.
How to Begin a Reading Journey with Small Children
When I asked you to Ask Me Anything, CaroG wanted to know how I share/bring my reading with the littles. Below you’ll find what I’ve been very good at…and things I’ve struggled with. Of course, as always, I can’t wait to hear your own input.
Fill Your House With Books
You know what is really annoying? Toys that have a billion pieces. You know what doesn’t have a billion pieces? Books! Ask your gift givers that you would love books for your kiddos rather than toys. Books never go out of style. We have books all over the house–next the the girls’ beds, in the playroom, in the family room, and of course on my bookshelves. This makes it easy to just grab a book and start reading. Besides, how does one become a reader if books aren’t easily accessible?
Find Opportunities to Read Outloud
Can’t get your child to sit still in your lap while reading a book to her? Me neither. Instead, if the busy little bee is playing with toys, I’ll plop down in the middle of the playroom and pick a book up and start reading out loud. Many times busy little bee will wander over to me and continue listening to the story. Or grab the book and start reading it herself. In many cases I have some of our oft-read books memorized so I can keep reading without the book in hand.
When my girls were little babies, we spent huge chunks out of the day reading books out loud. Um, because what else are you going to do with a 6 week old who doesn’t even smile yet? But really, even when I wasn’t reading one of their books, I would sometimes hold them and read my book. And depending on the book, you might even be lucky enough for the resistant napper to fall asleep.
Establish a Storytime Routine
Storytime is something that is ever-evolving at our house. I don’t read to Evie at bedtime but Elle always gets a book. I started the routine with her when she was a little over a year and could patiently sit through the story. She has just recently started to interrupt storytime with questions but I’m thrilled at how she adores a book at bedtime. And I love reading the books to her! She usually has a teetering stack of books on her nightstand. Just like mommy.
I keep a basket of books next to Evie’s rocking chair. I grab a book and try to read as much as I can but she isn’t interested in sitting through a whole book at this point. We’ll keep trying and I’m sure that eventually she’ll join in for storytime with her sister.
Explore the Bookstore and Library
Confession: I have never taken my kids to storytime at the library. It was never at a convenient time for me and honestly I just couldn’t be bothered. I don’t really like this, but for the sake of being honest… I do take them to the bookstore with me, though, and they know that anytime we go to Sam’s Club they will come home with a new book. Can I tell you how happy it makes me that they get excited about getting a new book as a treat?
Let Your Children See You Read
This is another area where I can do better–honestly sometimes I feel guilty plopping down on the couch to read when other people (or my kids) are around. Like I’m purposely ignoring them. Anyone else? Someone must have said something to me once upon a time to make me feel this. But, if my kiddos are happily playing, I do try to grab my book and read a bit. Of course, picking up a book also seems to be a magnet for “What’s Mommy Doing? I need to see that book!” But the girls definitely know how important books are to me and I hope that continues to rub off on them.
With all of this will my girls end up being readers? I don’t know. But I do hope that they develop a strong respect for books and reading and that one day we can pass books back and forth to one another.
What are some of our favorite books to read? I wrote about our Favorite Board Books a while ago and this list definitely needs to be updated. Future post plans include my favorite books to read to the girls (and their favorite reads).
How have you tried to foster a love of reading with little ones?