As summer comes to an end here in Australia and families prepare to go back to school, work and day care … it’s a great time to consider your family reading goals for this year. 

You may ask yourself questions such as:

  • How much reading am I doing and does this match how much would I like to be doing?
  • Does our family have regular reading times where we all share a story together?
  • Is reading an enjoyable and relaxing activity in our household?

Reading is a wonderful way to have a shared experience with your children. We read WITH our children and not TO them. The difference being that when we read with our children we are engaging them in the reading experience by discussing what it is we are reading and the images we are seeing. Reading with our children is a time to slow down, connect and bond as you talk about the words and the pictures in a book. We live in a fast paced world where our time is mostly scheduled down to the minute, so why not schedule in reading time with your kids? It doesn’t need to look perfect but it does need to be regular.

We read for meaning and we read to better understand ourselves and the world around us. Children are exposed to new ideas and language with every book they read. It’s a time for them to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions in a relaxed non-judgmental space, in the comfort and security of their own home. It’s a time for them to ask questions and start a conversation. This is a time to strengthen the bond we share with our children and show them how we value their thinking and their time.

The more you read at home the more this will help your children at school. The number one question I get asked as a schoolteacher is ‘how can I help my child at home?’ My answer is always the same “read everyday!” Reading everyday helps develop a child’s imagination and creativity. It helps spark ideas and questions and assists with building conversational skills. It also helps them with language, reading and writing skills. Twenty-first century learning skills are all about communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. Reading lots of books is the best way to develop and expand those skills.

10 Simple ways to increase the amount of reading in your day:

  1. Make stories a significant part of your nap and bed time routine. Read familiar books at these times and avoid introducing new and exciting books to keep the moment as relaxed and calm as possible.
  2. 2. Show your kids you read too. Talk about books in the highest regards. Talk about the books you’re reading and what you find interesting. If your kids see you reading and that it excites you they will be more likely to enjoy story time as well.
  3. Read everyday and re-read your favourite book over and over again. Children love hearing the same stories and will get new things out of a book as they develop.
  4. Listen to audio books on car rides. Kids love listening to stories and often learn to recite the ones they hear most regularly.
  5. Take regular trips to the library. Libraries not only have an amazing collection of books but they also have additional programs and activities for kids, so check out your local library’s website to see what’s on and get involved. Library visits are also good for building a sense of community involvement for your children. Be sure to let your children be involved with book selections to learn what interests them.
  6. If you have children over five years old, share a family chapter book and finish at a great spot leaving your kids wanting more. Pop into your local bookstore once a month and check out the new releases. Bookstores often have story time as well.
  7. Ask questions and share your thinking as you read along to model engaged reading.
  8. Have books in different parts of the house so they are easily accessible and clearly something to pick up and read. For younger kids they need to be low to the ground and the book faces need to be visible
  9. Have a special reading space that you’ve created with your kids where you can relax and read together.
  10. Replace screen time with book time. Have an hour or so a day where everyone puts their personal devices in a basket out of reach and take this time to connect through reading, games or chatting about stories.

Time is the most valuable commodity we have. So be generous with the time you give your children and make your connections meaningful through story time. When we stop and pick up a book to share we are physically showing our children that they are the most important person in that moment. Taking the time to do this every day will reap major rewards for your relationship.

Happy Reading!

Teri Mortimer is a teacher and mother with focus on helping parents develop meaningful connections with their children through reading. You can find more of advice and tips via her website or Instagram account @petitbookcorner