Reading to your child is an important step in the process of making them into their own person. While you might not realize it, every word that you read, every page you turn, and every illustration they see will in some way have an impact as they grow into an adult.
What do experts say about reading? According to Boston nonprofit Reach Out & Read, books not only support the bond between children and parents, but also brain and emotional development and advanced reading comprehension. The nonprofit also cites research that found families who take time to read together had better letter recognition, a greater range of vocabulary, increased listening skills, and a deeper understanding of storytelling.
And even if your child doesn’t know their ABCs, you should still prioritize making time to read. Studies show that reading to infants boosts their vocabulary, engages the development of their brain, and improves language processing skills. Plus, by dedicating time and attention to storytime with your little ones every day, you can deepen your parent-child bond. Who doesn’t want that?
So, how do you raise a reader? It starts with being someone who inspires your child to pick up anything they can get their hands on. Children who love to read will let you know by showing off their skills any way they can: reading packaging aloud in the grocery store, clamoring for trips to the library, or volunteering to read aloud during family storytime.
It’s up to you to put stories before them that will engage and inspire them to not only read more and read better, but to become the best versions of themselves they possibly can. There are millions of books and stories out there, but only a fraction of those teach children valuable life lessons and speak to them in a wholesome, age-appropriate way.
Quality and Quantity
When it comes to literacy and language skills, it’s not just the amount of time you spend reading to your child that matters – what you read to or with them matters just as much. The books you share with your child provide the perfect opportunity to talk about values and growth, share meaningful stories, and discuss some tough topics that little ones might not otherwise be brave enough to broach.
Think back to your favorite stories as a child. What kinds of stories did you enjoy? Were there any lessons learned that stick with you even now? Why were those books or the lessons that piqued your interest at a young age? And most important, what do those books mean to you now?
While every child is unique and different, it’s probably safe to say that, if a book was good enough to stick in your mind, it’s likely going to do the same for your child. And plus, what child won’t enjoy sharing a story that their parents loved at their age?
It might feel like there’s a lot of pressure in choosing the stories you share with your children, but don’t worry – while it is daunting to look at the millions of titles available online and in stores, there are ways to whittle down your child’s reading list to include books more focused on values and life lessons.
What’s on your bookshelf?
When building an amazing reading list, remember: the books you select are as important as the connection between the two people reading together. You should be as excited about the story as your child is – and if you’re not, they’ll know!
Stories with significance
Choosing books that inspire questions and memories are a great asset to any home library. Think back to stories that had an impact on you in your youth and start with a few of your favorites. Additionally, this is a great time to help your child engage with their creative side. Do they love animals, the weather or famous figures? Including books that speak to them personally is a great way to foster a love of reading and engaging with books.
Books that create new worlds
Stories help children switch on their creativity and imagine themselves in the adventures and scenarios that they read about. Not only that, but storybooks are often written with specific themes or lessons in mind, whether they’re about managing big feelings, building self-confidence, or practicing gratitude.
Tales that inspire tradition
Whether gathering around a Christmas tree, menorah or simply celebrating the holiday season, books add a layer of tradition and togetherness to family gatherings that nothing else can. Creating family-based traditions around reading the night before a special event stays with children long after they outgrow believing in Santa and waking you up at the crack of dawn to open presents.
Build your collection with ease
With hundreds of thousands of books on the market for readers of all ages, choosing reading material that engages and inspires the children in your life feels like a daunting task. As you begin scouring online listings, here are three things to keep in mind:
- Consider looking for discount bundles to save money and fill the bookshelf at a lower cost with higher-quality books.
- Don’t feel the need to do it all at once. By mindfully adding to your bookshelf one curated book at a time, you’ll ease in new stories—just in time—for special snuggle sessions or read-a-thons during rainy days.
- Ask friends and family to pass on books they’ve outgrown or host a “build-our-family-library” event instead of asking for gifts at baby showers or birthdays. If someone in your inner circle loved a story, there’s a chance you will too.
Raising young readers on a steady diet of stories with a purpose doesn’t have to be a daunting task; after all, curling up with a good book is one of life’s great joys, no matter how old or young you are. By choosing titles that inspire your children to be caring, kind, honest, and positive, you’re not just investing in their literacy – you’re also investing in their future.
About Puppy Dogs & Ice Cream:
Puppy Dogs & Ice Cream is a small, independent children’s book publisher based in San Diego, California. They offer a publishing alternative to the traditional publishing model which benefits authors and customers alike. They have a strong belief in supporting American businesses, and all of their books are printed in the US. For more information, please visit https://shop.puppydogsandicecream.com/.