Raising Readers: Helping My Kids Develop A Love For Reading
I’m more of a reader than a writer. I find reading a pleasurable experience because I get to encounter new words, discover new things, meet strangers, and visit unfamiliar places. In a nutshell (for me), reading is a way of life. So if there’s just one trait I want to pass down to my children, that would be my love for reading.
Reading and Children
Experts say that we should read to our children at least 15 minutes a day to help improve their intellectual, social, and emotional development. True enough, we hold the key to our children’s learning potential.
I read books to my children because I want to expand their vocabulary, improve their imagination & creativity, and create an indispensable and rewarding habit that they will enjoy. Reading is also one of the cheapest ways to bond with my boys so I’m seizing every opportunity.
- Use picture books for starters.
- Make it a routine (ever heard of bedtime stories?) or read at a time when your child is most alert.
- Minimize distractions to maximize the reading experience.
- Pause to make room for reactions and questions.
- Give a summary at the end of every story.
- Ask for feedback after reading a book.
- Take your child to the bookstore and let him or her choose books.
- Show your personal interest and anticipation.
- Pick a conducive spot to read in — comfortable and with plenty of light.
- Read aloud (and with feelings) to keep things lively and engaging.
- Recall stories you’ve read together when a similar situation comes up.
- Be patient. Children tend to move around while you’re reading.
- Create a reading log to track your daily reading minutes. Check out 20 for 20 Family Reading Challenge by Scholastic.com.
I always make sure that my children have access to a variety of books suited to their developmental stage. We do keep and reread old books but I also update their collection from time to time. Introducing new books excites them and fuels their curiosity. If you’re a certified bookworm, you know what I mean.
Just before classes started this year, I organized their books and encyclopedias on the shelf to make our reading time easy and convenient.
Here are a few good titles to choose from, for toddlers and preschoolers alike.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
- Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
- The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
- Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
- I Just Forgot (A Little Critter Book) by Mercer Mayer
- Love You Forever byRobert Munsch
- May I Please Have a Cookie? by Jennifer Morris
My youngest is one year and 4 months old so I let him use fabric books. These fabric books (or cloth books) are ideal for babies and toddlers because they are soft and squishy. Soft books also have a touch-and-feel feature, with different textures to help stimulate your children’s sense of touch.
Here are some of Neo’s soft books: Stuffed toy car with a story book underneath by SoftPlay (given by my dad), My Boo Book by Anne Wilkinson for Jellycat Soft Books (given by my Tita Yhet), and The Wonderful World of Peekaboo! by Read and Play (I bought this for my eldest 4 years ago at SM Baby Company.)
Watch Neo leafing through the pages of his Peekaboo! book.
For toddlers, I recommend that you buy them interactive books that play sound effects and songs. These electronic learning and educational toys will help toddlers engage with books through fun and play. It will also give you lots of time to do what you need to do because your child will surely spend long minutes playing with his or her toy slash book.
Zaiel was playing with his VTech Peek A Boo Book. It sings nursery rhymes and lights up in the middle. I bought it from Rustan’s 3 years ago.
Check out these other interactive electronic books from Amazon.
My eldest, Zaiel, is fond of books. He would ditch toys for books, especially if they’re new. At an early age of 2, he would open books by himself and ask me to start reading. At three, he already has an idea about a story by merely looking at the pictures.
Zaiel is now a preschooler and I’m sharing with you a few of his favorite books. Click on the links to view full descriptions.
- It’s Hard to Hurry When You’re a Snail by Dorothy M. Stewart (A Noah’s Ark-inspired story book. I scored it from BOOKSALE bookstore for PhP 50)
- One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway (An inspiring story about a boy’s success. A great story book to help young children understand business and entrepreneurship concepts. I got this from my dad, which he received from a relative of ours.)
- Matuto Mula sa Dakilang Guro by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (A book about the teachings of Jesus Christ and what children can learn from them. There is an English version, Learn from the Great Teacher (click on the link to download), but I intend to teach my son lessons from the Bible using our mother tongue.
- Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin by Brady Bluhm (Zaiel was once addicted to watching The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Book given by my dad.)
- Junkyard Dig!: Building from A to Z (Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown) by Annie Auerbach (A junkyard story featuring the letters of the alphabet. Gifted by my friend, Sheila.)
Where To Buy Books
Most books in our bookshelf are gifted/given by generous family and friends, then everything else is handpicked by yours truly. Here’s a list of bookstores/places where I usually buy books:
- National Book Store. They have promos and book sales every now and then. Also watch out for their Warehouse Sale.
- Fully Booked. My favorite bookstore.
- Powerbooks. My next fave bookstore.
- Booksale. They always have books on sale, hence the brand name. Perfect for those who love a little “Thrill of the Hunt” game.
- Precious Pages. Located at 3F, City Center, SM North. We go there to buy Lampara books.
- The Learning Basket. It’s a homeschooling blog by Mariel. Her shop has a wide selection of books for children of all ages.
- Garage Sales. My dad is the know-it-all person when it comes to garage sales. I go with him often to check out some good finds, whether books or house decors.
My mini haul: Counting Chicks: A Hop Movie Tie-In by Kirsten Mayer and Pancakes, Pancakes! and A House for Hermit Crab, both by Eric Carle (kids love Eric Carle!) All of these for PhP 30. The original price of the book Counting Chicks is PhP 199. See, you can get good books without busting your budget.
Books vs. eBooks
Both. But make sure you’ve already established the basics of reading a ‘traditional’ book to your child. For apps, I recommend the Bible for Kids. It’s an interactive story book for children, has a ‘Read to Me’ option, and it’s free. You may also buy or download free ebooks for children and open them in iBooks, Kindle, or in a PDF reader on your tablet.
Share the Love of Reading
I was with my son Zaiel at NBS last year when we learned about Project Aklat. We donated a book worth PhP 50 to the children of Tacloban who were victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). In our own little ways, we can teach our kids the value of reading.
Reading is a valuable skill; a basic foundation of learning. If you’re a parent, encourage your babies and kids to read. Become a reading advocate. Remember that you’re not only teaching them how to read, but also offering them one of the most important gifts you can give — your time.