My five-year-old daughter's whining has me running through a mental checklist in an effort to find a reason. Hunger? Nope. She’s been fed. Tired? Unlikely. She slept well last night. As I cross off all the usual suspects it dawns on me that she could very well want some one-on-one time to reconnect. And I've found that the easiest way to do so is through her love of books. So, I take five minutes out of a hectic day to snuggle up with her and we read.
Reading aloud to children is excellent for creating a sense of connection. So, naturally, reading aloud regularly is a simple way to maintain that feeling. Research shows that both kids and parents say they love that time, according to the Kids and Family Reading Report, 6th Edition. But what about those times when you're really struggling to find opportunities to read aloud? Here are a few ideas that are particularly useful for those busy occasions.
1. Look for snippets of time in your family routine.
Storytime doesn’t have to happen at bedtime. When my girls were young, I often read to them while they ate breakfast or took a bath -- reading helped to keep them sitting still! In fact, even at 10, my daughter still asks me to read a chapter or two from whatever novel we have, as my girls have breakfast. (Of course, this doesn’t usually happen on busy school mornings!)
2. Take 5 minutes before you start the day.
Start the day off right with five minutes of an extra-special snuggle in bed, plus a short story or a few pages of a chapter book or novel.
3. Share interesting magazine articles or news stories.
Reading these at the dinner table can spark insightful discussions about local or societal issues with older children, allowing you the opportunity to find out what your children think and feel about topics that matter.
4. Take advantage of waiting times.
Carry a book in your handbag or keep a small collection in the car so you can always take advantage of waiting times. You might read to your younger children while waiting to pick up an older child from school or read in the doctor’s waiting room or while waiting for your order at a restaurant.
5. Invite older children to read.
On those days when you simply have to get things done, invite an older brother or sister to read to your younger ones. This fosters a connection between siblings and provides your older child with valuable read-aloud practice.
6. Read as you ride.
While it might not fit the traditional model of reading aloud, playing an oral word game like the Alphabet Game while you're driving to school engages your kids with letters and words.
Directions for the Alphabet Game: Players attempt to each find a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet -- in order -- on road signs and building signs and more. Once the letter the player is looking for is sighted, he must say the letter and the word. For example, “A in Avenue.” The winner is the first to make it to Z, or the player who makes it furthest through the alphabet by the time you reach your destination!
Adding just one of these ideas to your daily routine will provide a valuable opportunity to connect with your kids through the magic of reading. Tell us what time of day works best as read-aloud time in your family by joining the conversation on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.
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