Tip Tuesday — Reading with Kids

The internet’s been down all day here so Tip Tuesday is gonna be mostly on Wednesday this week but I know you can roll “wid” it because y’all are cool like that.

When Laylee was first born, I read to her obsessively. I had all kinds of reading goals, plans and agendas and I loved the way we bonded over our favorite books. Now that Magoo has joined the posse, I find myself armed with books as a weapon to encourage naps, bedtime and something like quiet behavior in church.

He doesn’t seem to have an attention span worth mentioning and since most of our books don’t growl or explode, they’re of very little interest to him.

Laylee still loves stories but she wants to pick her own now and they’re often either so long or so annoying that I try not to suggest story time unless I’m trying to bribe her into narcolepsy.

book coverI’ve felt guilty about our mounting family illiteracy but not as guilty as I’ve felt about my many other areas of personal parental inadequacy so I’ve let it slide. Sometime between 6 months and 10 years ago, Sourcebooks sent me a review copy of Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos: A Guide to Reading, Choosing and Loving Books Together.

I finally pulled it out last month and found it was really a quick read and much to my surprise, it did not make me feel a bit guilty, only encouraged to do better. It’s full of great tips, quotes and stories about reading but the best part is that it’s crammed with lists of books for nearly every early age, stage and personality type.

I enjoyed the book and the renewed excitement my kids and I have found for reading so much that I decided to send it on to my sister-in-law as a baby present… But I couldn’t part with all those fabu lists so now I have to go and spend actual money on the darn thing.

My 3 favorite tips from the book are:

-Relax and let your kids enjoy their books, even if it means letting them love Curious George to a pitiful paper monkey death.

-Have your kids grab a couple of books on your way out the door so they have something to occupy them in the car. This will build their bond with books and may give you a couple of seconds’ peace as you drive or a helpful diversion in a checkout line.

-Take small chunks of time throughout the day to sit down and read with your kids, not just one big fat story marathon and not just at bedtime.

What tips do you have to encourage reading for children of all ages?

What books should no children’s library be without?

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21 Responses to Tip Tuesday — Reading with Kids

  1. Heffalump says:

    We used to be great at reading with the kids. Then we kept having more of them and the reading to them became harder. Books the older boys will like to listen to don’t always hold the attention of the younger boys and vice versa.
    Its something we need to work on as a family.
    I enjoy having the older boys read to me as well. We take turns reading the pages. For them, being read to one on one is a really huge deal. Its hard dividing time between five kids and they love the idea that they are important enough to get some one on one time, even if its just a short chapter’s worth.

  2. Melissa says:

    We try to let our kids pick out a book every once in awhile at Barnes and Noble. Then it is THEIR book. They chose it and they seem to love it that much more.

  3. Eleisha says:

    With my nieces and nephew we take them to story hour at the local library. They get to play games and listen to stories be told along with other kids. Then they each get to check out books. They learn responsibility and care for books because they are not their own and they have to be returned…all three of them enjoy this weekly outing, and it gives ‘mom’ a chance to sit back and let someone else to the ‘reading’. (Some parents actually just drop the kids off, whoever took my nieces/nephew stayed in the shadows or helped out when needed)
    Also, let them read books they like. My ten year old niece is a Archie comic buff and a riddle reader, so that’s the books she purchases with her allowance money. Is it structured reading…not by some standards, but she’s still reading.

  4. Barbara says:

    My best advice is to pick up some mini-books (3″X3″) that Annick Press (Robert Munsch and others) makes and pop them in your purse. They’re great for in lines, on planes, to encourage sitting on toilets in strange bathrooms, whatever. I was even lucky enough to find a 10-pack that was intended as party favours. We now can carry 15 or so books in a little bag, no more than 1.5″ thick. Reid loves to be read to and it would be tough to be on an airplane or in a car for more than an hour with only 3 books.

  5. Tigersue says:

    Relax and let your kids enjoy their books, even if it means letting them love Curious George to a pitiful paper monkey death.

    I love that idea! I am absolutely living it right now. My first two kids really don’t care much for books or reading, my son is slowly getting there, I don’t think my oldest daughter ever will. On the other hand, my two little girls love, love love books. The littlest one loves them to death. I have no idea how many books I have found with tears, rips or just broken into pieces. I try to put all the expensive ones up out of their reach, but somehow Kendra manages to get them down and give them to Abbie anyway. I have to remember that this is part of the learning to love books and somehow I will be able to teach them how to respect them as well. 🙂

  6. Liz says:

    These are such great tips.

    As a reader, myself, I had high hopes for reading with Henry. But he doesn’t sit for a story. Several times a day, I try to read a story aloud to him as he chases the cat around the living room. He does, however, love to go to his shelf and pull down several books and sit quietly to read to himself.

    I’m totally going to the library to check this book out now. I could really use some advice as to how to read to and with an active toddler.

  7. Brooke says:

    To get the kids more involved in the story/story time, have them point to specific things in the pictures. For instance, if you’re reading Beauty and the Beast, you can say “Put your finger on Belle. Now can you find Mrs. Potts?” They LOVE that!

  8. Shalee says:

    I have several tips to help with their love of reading.

    But you’ve just inspired me to do a post on it. I’ll get it up tomorrow.

  9. Kimberly says:

    Aww heck. Okay, okay, I’m turning the TV off now…

  10. Lisa says:

    When my children were young, we read during the day, but it is also the bed time ritual, even now that they are older. If the book is long-as in a chapter book, I read a few pages or a whole chapter. We have something we can talk about and look forward to. And it is a good way to stay connected to your older kids.

  11. slawebb says:

    I take the kids, well kid now my oldest just started kindergarten to day!, to story time each week. They get to pick out as many books as they are old and I pick a few other.

    Books no one should be with out…where do I start. Anything by Helen Lester. She writes the Tacky the Penguin books, and she also writes books about behavior taught in a funny way (Listen, Buddy-a bunny who doesn’t listen, Me First- about a pig who wants to be first all the time and many others. We love them! Also the Toot and Puddle books by Hollie Hobby (yes, that’s correct.) These are about to pigs who are best friends with very different personalities. The pictures are so lovely you will buy these just to look at them. At least, that’s my opinion. The Wizard of Oz books. We just finished the 3rd in the series. The stories are discriptive but not too complex. The Magic Tree House books are great. Two kids travel back in time in a book and have an assignment to fulfil. It combines history and fiction. Lots of fun to listen to on tape.

    We started listening to books on tape when dd was 4. She has the attention span for it so we keep doing it. Even if you don’t take the time to read them yourself books an tape are great. DD would just as soon listen to a book as watch a video. Lots of times we put on a book on tape at lunch, lots of fun.

    Is that enough?

  12. Heather says:

    Hey, this homeschoolin’ mama nearly has nodules on her vocal cords from reading aloud for years. Ouch! I have remedied this problem by getting BOOKS ON TAPE at the library. Ohmy, especially those little toddlers and bickering siblings strapped in the car ~ it is near silent when we have a book going while driving about. They have nothing better to do during that time. When I pop a tape in they are suddenly wrapped up in the story and even “hush” each other if anyone dares to talk. Start with something light and funny… “Socks” by Beverly Cleary or something like that.

    We have TOO many favorite books to recommend any. However, I don’t recommend Junie B Jones or anything with terrible grammar and poor sentence structure. The books are funny and everything, but the grammar aint no good and theys was pickin up them bad languidge structures. My grammar isn’t perfect, but I certainly don’t want to start any bad habits!

  13. Margaret says:

    I’m an aunt, and when I read with my n&n I let each one choose a book or two, and then we cycle through them – one from each kid. That helps the not-so-interested-in-THIS-book kids sit quieter – they know THEIR book is coming.

    I’ve also started a sort of Aunt Margaret Lending Library with my 8-yr-old niece, since she is a good reader and always looking for something new. I loan her a book or two almost every time I see her, which is at least every 2 weeks, and she gets all excited to tell me how quickly she read it 🙂 and we talk about it a little. And it’s just SO FUN to have her say, “Did you bring me another book to read?”

    And sometimes she’s not really excited about a certain book, but usually if I read the first chapter or two outloud with her she can’t STAND not to finish it 🙂 and sometimes she ends up liking the book more than she had originally thought.

    It’s actually been fun to talk about the books with my sister, too. Every once in a while my niece won’t have read the book I loaned her, but my sister will have. 🙂

  14. Funny you should ask, I was just thinking the other day about what my favorite children’s books are:

    Runaway Bunny- Brown: I LOVE the moral that this book has, no matter where you go or who you become I will always be your mommy and come and find you!

    Smelly Bill-Daniel Postgate : Hilarious! Your children will love it! Even I snicker as I read it.

    When You Grow Up- Goodings & Jones:A fun/sentimental read.

  15. bonnie says:

    I’m gonna have to say Robert Munsch all the way….”I love you forever!” tooo awesome. I love a million books but his are by far my faves!

  16. Sarah says:

    I have found that when I read the newspaper or a book, my girl will often come sit by me and “read” one of her books. Being an example of a good reader has definitely influenced her.

    Thanks for the book suggestion.

  17. Of course, reading to your children is THE best. But seeing you read goes a looooong way in encouraging their love of reading. Don’t underestimate the listening and comprehension capacity of a young child. I’ve been reading the classics aloud to mine since preschool age –but certainly not to the exclusion of Curious George and the likes :). I have managed to have a house full of readers despite their attention problems. Loved this post.

  18. Tiffany says:

    There are books that growl and explode–with your help. Try Big Green Scary Monster by Ed Emberly–I love this book. Try Maisy books by Lucy Cousins. Try some nonfiction–like truck books. There is nonfiction for the young set, too. Often boys gravitate to nonfiction and magazines (um, probably a little young for those just yet.)

    There are tons of books with one to eight words on a page. Books nearly anyone can sit still for. There are books without words. I like the Adventures of Polo (probably more for Laylee). Ask your local children’s librarian for suggestions. You’ll be amazed at what is out there.

    Hide the books Laylee always wants to read that you can’t stand. Seriously. One tip I always see on lists is to read books you enjoy, too. It’s true. You’ll want to read more if you enjoy the books. Try Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (or his Lily books) with Laylee or any of the Olivia books by Ian Falconer. The market is flooded with princess books right now which should fit right up her alley.

    Good luck.

  19. Sarah says:

    I didn’t read the other comments because, well, they are long and my attention span is not. So I hope this wasn’t already mentioned but my boys love love love books with flaps or pop-ups. I got one at Marshall’s the other day that is like a scavenger hunt. You lift one flap and it leads you to another and so on. Anyway, that’s my tip. Enjoy!

  20. Rebecca says:

    Those are great tips.
    My big one is to make sure that little kids have their books where they can reach them – The Baby’s board books live in plastic dishpans on the floor.

  21. KYouell says:

    My tip comes from my experience when I was about 3. Every night after work my dad would read while my mom made dinner. I can remember playing the “turn a page” game: each time he turned a page in his book I would turn a page in mine. Of course, my books were always much shorter so I would have to flip my book over in order to keep turning pages with him. My mom walked through the room one time when I had the book upside-down and took it from me, flipped it back over, and said something about me not being able to read it if it wasn’t right-side up. At the time I thought something along the lines of “Stupid Grown Ups” — as I knew I was playing the page turning game not trying to read.

    The lesson (since I ramble I must explain) is to not tell a kid they are playing with something wrong. Even a precious book. I wasn’t hurting the book, just playing with it a different way. Sadly, she still does that kind of thing with my son. I’m trying to let her see that creative play sometimes means that books get read upside-down, but it’s hard for her. She and my dad did a great job of showing that reading is fun, but sometimes I had my own ideas about how to have fun with books too.

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