Updated: Apr 8
As our children grow and become proficient readers, they will become increasingly independent, and while our role as facilitators will change, we should still remain actively engaged.
Continue providing access to a wide variety of reading material and the time to read. In our busy lives, it is easy to accumulate books, but sometimes slowing down long enough to enjoy them becomes a major challenge.
Schedule at least one day per week to visit the library and check out materials. Allot additional time for enjoying all the gems your little ones find. Typically, library books are most novel when first checked out. Novelty declines soon after and results in many books being left unread if too much time passes between check-out and a designated reading time.
Bedtime/ Quiet time
My kids never had a formal bedtime, but I did get them into the routine of winding down and preparing for sleep at about 8 pm each night. They could read for as long as they wanted, provided they were in their rooms (preferably in bed). Many a night, I would walk into their rooms only to find them sound asleep surrounded by stacks of books. I would have to remove the books so that they would have room to sleep in their beds.
Winding down the day with reading is a healthy way to prepare for sleep. It is calming and entertaining, and unlike the disruptive light iminated by electronic screens, promotes sound sleep. Providing a bookshelf or basket of books near your child’s sleeping area encourages reading, and allotting time before sleeping to read is an easy way to carve out time during a busy day to read.
A rule in my home was that each child would need to bring at least one book to read whenever we rode in the car. This kept them happy, occupied, and productive while we ran errands or went on road trips. Riding in the car was just idle time that was usually spent annoying one another or me. Using it as a designated reading time solved that problem quite effectively. The children would usually bring their own books to read to themselves, but we would also listen to audiobooks regularly on our trips as well. Audiobooks also eliminate car sickness in those who are prone to it when reading in a moving vehicle.
Not all audiobooks are worth listening to. Some books are much better read manually, and vice versa. I particularly prefer classics and other books that are enhanced when read in the intended accent. For example, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn includes numerous vernaculars that would be nearly impossible for the average person to imitate accurately while reading aloud. For this reason, the works of Mark Twain are largely recommended to be listened to rather than read manually. Of course we have a list of recommended audiobooks on our website.
We spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting to see the doctor. Waiting to see the dentist. Waiting for children in their activities. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Since waiting is usually preceded by a car ride, my kids would already have books with them to read. Rather than tormenting each other, running amok, or just generally being bored and annoying, I encouraged them to sit and enjoy their books while we waited. Sometimes I would read aloud to them. Sometimes we would listen to audiobooks. Waiting time is an easy way to get some good reading time in.
If you are able to schedule reading time into your day, that is great. However, if your days are overflowing with obligations, you can still squeeze in plenty of time to read with just a little creativity. By maximizing otherwise “idle” times, your children will continue growing as readers.