As any parent/bibliophile knows – books matter for children and adults alike. After all, what better way is there to travel the seven-seas, solve the deepest mysteries, and generally have an amazing time?
For our children, especially, books form a fundamental role in not only their development but, ultimately, making them into the best and most-rounded adults possible. At the very least, studies have shown that children with a love for reading are more empathetic and patient.
Stop Telling Yourself Stories About Not Having Time To Read To Your Child
Hearing you read aloud from a young age is especially fundamental for the little people in your life. In fact, experts regularly state that reading to your children from birth right up even past the point where they can read themselves is fundamental for development. Most notably, spending time on this hobby when your kids are young can open a range of beneficial doors, including:
- Stronger vocabulary
- Increased attention spans
- Enhanced empathy
- Closer parent-child bonds
- Strengthened cognitive abilities
- Navigation skills surrounding social settings
- Reduced anxiety
- Enhanced imagination/creativity
- And more
That’s a range of benefits wider than with just about any other parent-child hobby, meaning reading aloud is, quite literally, one of the best things you can do. And, that’s before we even consider the fact that children who are exposed to books while young are far more likely to continue reading into adulthood. And, we’re sure you don’t need us to tell you about the wide-reaching benefits of that!
The trouble is that fantastic as an early reading aloud habit can be, many parents simply don’t feel like they have the time to undertake this properly.
In some ways, this is understandable – parenthood is hard, and there are never enough hours in the day. That said, this busy narrative is certainly no reason not to get around to reading. In fact, as with anything important, carving the time out of your day should be non-negotiable, no matter how old your child is. Even if you’ve got a newborn, then, consider the following tips for helping you to make reading aloud a regular part of your routine, starting from today.
Integrate reading into every day routines
Perhaps the best advice we can give is to integrate reading into the everyday routines that you already have in place. After all, when you feel like you’re juggling too much at once, even carving a small chunk from your day can seem impossible. During the newborn stage, especially, it can feel like every second is taken with general care/trying to sleep where you can. Hence why reading often doesn’t get a look in!
But, we’re here to tell you that you don’t need to magic more time to make reading possible, you just need to think about where it fits within the routines you already have in place. Bedtime and mornings are a fantastic example of where you can make the most of a reading habit. At the very least, reading to your child after putting them down could well help to get them off to sleep! Equally, taking some time to read as/before you get ready for the day can help everyone to take a breather before embarking on the madness.
Equally, incorporating books into playtime with rhyme time/actions can be a fantastic way to engage young brains. As you can see from these tips for relaxing with a bubble bath, you could even introduce reading to bathtimes once your child can sit up independently. This is especially enjoyable if you introduce bath books that your child can hold in the water with them!
You name it, and there’s probably a way to fit reading into it. So, instead of trying the impossible task of creating time, think about the time you have, and how you could ensure that reading is a part of that at last!
Read often, not long
As you can see from the above suggestions, you don’t need extensive amounts of time to fit in a reading session with your child. In fact, while adults enjoy long hours lounging on the sofa with a good book, kids are actually far better suited to short reading bursts that appeal to their shorter attention spans.
As such, our next focus is on reading often, rather than for long periods. In reality, carving out five or ten minutes at a time is ideal here, perhaps as much as two or three times a day. This is plenty of time to get through a few picture books or a good chapter of a book for an older child, yet it isn’t half as difficult to find five minutes spare. In fact, most of us could make this time by simply skipping scroll-time on our phones or getting up ten minutes earlier, which isn’t exactly much of a loss.
So, stop putting pressure on yourself and start getting around to reading. Ask yourself where you could carve five minutes, even if that’s at the start or end of your days. Then, you really can stop telling yourself stories about never having the time.
While they don’t quite hold the same benefits as reading to your child yourself, audiobooks are still fantastic news for developers, and they couldn’t be easier to fit into even busy days. After all, when you don’t have to concentrate or tie up your hands to incorporate stories, you could make the most of time spent driving, eating, or generally trying to clean the house. All the while, your kids will be able to get stuck in.
Perhaps the best news about audiobooks is that kid-friendly options often involve multi-narrator casts, fun sound effects, and a whole load of other additions that you’d struggle to achieve from your own home-based production. Admittedly, it is worth still carving time to read at least one physical book a day so that your child can still bond with you and see words on the page, but audiobooks certainly take off a lot of the pressure.
Luckily, there’s now a range of audiobook platforms to make use of, with countless local libraries even offering free kid-friendly audios for download. Equally, big-players like Audible allow you to buy one audiobook a month for a set fee. There’s even a Netflix-esque audiobook subscription site called Scribd that you’ll most definitely want to check out for one affordable listen after another.
Exposing your children to stories really couldn’t be simpler!
Make the most of waiting times
Being a parent often involves long waiting times. Whether you’re waiting in the dentist’s office, in the doctor’s waiting room, or at the school gates – this is largely wasted time. And, that makes it an ideal candidate for a reading habit you can stick to.
By making sure that you keep a few of your younger’s favorite books in the car, you can certainly make sure that waiting isn’t waste any longer. Rather, you’ll be able to pull out a story and get stuck in as soon as the clock stops on whatever you’re doing.
Admittedly, you might not want to re-enact your favorite rhyme-time tale in the waiting room, but that’s okay. Sometimes, simply letting your child turn the pages and look at the pictures is enough. And, who knows; if the waiting room is empty apart from your family and the receptionist, you might just feel brave enough to give them your rendition of The Gruffalo.
Let siblings pass along their love for reading
As parents, we’re incredibly adept at taking everything on our shoulders. In reality, you needn’t be the one reading to your child every time. In fact, letting other people take a turn can be fantastic for helping them to get used to bonding with others.
Specifically, in this case, letting older siblings read to younger kids can be incredibly effective. After all, this is the ultimate in killing multiple birds with one reading stone. Not only does your smallest child get to enhance their language/emotional skills… But your older child gets to enjoy the same, while also developing their ability to read aloud. And, you get to carry on with making the tea/emptying the dishwasher, or whatever else needs doing.
As well as being an incredibly heartwarming sight, this is one of the best pairings you can provide for your children on the reading front. Beware, though, that you won’t want to go too far out of ear-shot just in case a sibling squabble ensues and distracts them from the task at hand!
A final word
You really needn’t read between the lines to see that reading aloud to children of all ages is a non-negotiable aspect of your role as a parent. Even if you haven’t picked up a book for yourself in years, making an effort here can make a huge difference in more ways than you would ever realize. And, as we’ve discovered, there’s always time to make it happen. Who knows; by reading to your children, you might even discover a love for the written word that you never knew you had within you!