Reading before School

  
Theo  started attending playgroup last week. He will be spending at least half the day there once the familiarisation period ends. While I’m keen on him learning German, I’m a little concern that he’ll not be read to as much as he is currently getting from being home with me. 

I know children pick up languages from daily conversation, however, reading expands a child’s vocabulary by leaps and bounds. So, it’s really important to me that we spend a few precious moments in the morning to read a few books from the book box. It’s cuddle time for Mama too! 

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How to read to kids who can’t sit still

  
Ever since Theo discovered crawling, he’s EVERYWHERE. He is always on the move unless he’s asleep . And because he’s so active, many friends ask how I manage to read to him daily and keep him interested in books. I thought I’ll pen my tips down and hopefully give parents who would love to read to their active child some hope.

1. Interactive books – Read books that require you to do actions such as wiggle your hips, shake, clap your hands, stomp your feet, roar like a lion! Make reading come to live by performing what’s in the book. Don’t just read word for word. Singalong books are great for kids who can’t sit still too.

2. Keep it simple – Too many words on a page and your toddler runs away. Don’t give up at this point. Shorten the stories. Or, don’t read the entire story. It could very well be a “point and see” activity such as “Look! Bear’s got a pink ball!” Say it with much excitement and your child will be interested too.

3. Know your child’s interest – Jungle animals, dinosaurs, fire engines, and so on are common themes that entertain young children. Bring them to your local library and let them pick the books they enjoy. Know what interests them and read those books aloud. 

4. Read when they are at their calmest – After a nap, before a meal, after a bath, before bedtime. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes. 

5. Just carry on reading – your child may be all over the room but he/she can still hear your voice. Continue reading aloud. 

5 Tips for Raising Readers

  
“My baby won’t sit still and read.”

“My baby just chews on books.”

“My baby is too young to understand.”

“I sound silly reading aloud to my baby.”

These are the top most common statements I hear from parents who don’t read daily with their children. Often, these parents know that reading is important for a child to develop literary skills and they do want their children to develop good reading habits. However, the reasons they give stop them from reading daily with their little ones. 

Whenever my friends tell me any of the above reasons, I urge them not to give up and simply keep trying. 

1.  Start young

I never quite understand why it’s too early to read to babies simply because they won’t understand. It’s not as if we stop talking to babies because they won’t understand us. The whole point of speaking and reading to them is so they get used to our voices, pick up vocabulary as they grow and learn communication skills. It’s NEVER too early to read to the little ones. If they won’t sit still to look at the pages, so be it. They haven’t got the attention span but they can still hear you speak the words. 

2. Make it a routine

To encourage reading, make it part of their daily lives. Many people encourage reading at bedtime. I recommend reading whenever your child is in the best mood for it. It could be in the morning, afternoon or before going to bed. In our home, I try to do it 3 times a day. We have two piles of books by the bed which we read in the morning and night time. It’s really nice to snuggle up close to read a few books before starting the day. In the day, we read by the bookshelf in the living room and we spend about 30 to 45 minutes just reading and looking through books. 

3. Let your child pick the book

I make sure my son has easy access to his books. He’s free to pull them off the shelves and flip the pages. Paperbacks are placed higher up and can only be read under adult supervision because he is not exactly the most gentle being on earth. He gets to pick whatever book and I’ll read them to him. It doesn’t matter if he decides on a different book after I’ve read a couple of pages. I let him take the lead.

4. Make it fun

Go beyond the print on the pages! Make silly noises because kids love it when you make a fool out of yourself. Be animated, and ask questions. Even if you’re reading to a baby, ask questions and provide the answers. One fine day, he or she will respond positively and you’ll feel so rewarded. 

5. Keep reading

Don’t give up just because your child doesn’t seem interested. Who cares if you sound or look silly reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar out loud surrounded by your own four walls? If you do it often enough, you’ll soon know what your child likes and dislikes, and how to get his/her attention. 

No Matter What By Debu Gliori

  


Sometimes as parents we are so overwhelmed by work, housework, text messages, emails etc that we unknowingly neglect our children. In No Matter What, Debi Gliori reassures the little ones that they will always be loved. Be it when they are grumpy or scary like a crocodile, we will always love our children. 

This story of unconditional love is one which every parent should read aloud to their little ones. The illustrations are funny and the questions put across by Small are cheeky. Definitely one to make both adults and children laugh. 

My favourite line in the book is

“It’s like that with love – we may be close, we may be far, but our love still surrounds us…wherever we are.”

It’s the one sentence I’ll repeat to my boy who has extended family living away from us and I want him to know that they love him too despite the distance. 

Bear in Sunshine by Stella Blackstone

 
The Bear titles published by Barefoot Books is one of my favourite series. In Bear in Sunshine, bear enjoys different fun-filled activities in the various seasons. From singing in the rain to painting when it gets misty, each page opens a wide range of topics to discuss with children. 

My son LOVES balls. Anything that’s round is a ball to him. The first thing he spotted on the cover page was bear carrying a ball. Using the ball as an object of interest, I’ll ask him to point out the ball to me in the book. The bear series is fantastic for playing I-Spy with little children. There is always something to spot in these vibrantly illustrated pages. 

This is also a good book to introduce little readers to the four seasons and weather changes. It offers lots of room for discussion on what your little one might like to do on a rainy day or a windy autumn day. 

I Love You Through and Through By Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

  

My son’s nickname is “Teddy” even before he was born. Therefore, we have the tendency to get clothings with bears on and books that feature bears as the main characters. He has recently learnt to be more affectionate towards his cuddly toys so I was thrilled to come across this book which features a little boy with his teddy bear.

The story is essentially very simple yet meaningful. It lets your little ones know that you love them for being them – love their top side, bottom side, fingers, toes, inside, outside  and so on. When I read it to my son, I point to the various body parts so he knows where they are. It reinforces that every little bit of them is being loved. 

Given that it’s a really short and simple book to read, young ones won’t get easily distracted and will probably enjoy sitting on your lap to let you read it through. I love the ending where you tell your little one that you loved them yesterday, love them today and will love them tomorrow too.

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

 
What a great way to introduce children to primary and secondary colours! The vibrant illustrations are accompanied with a simple storyline.  

Mouse Paint is a brilliant concept book for young children who are learning about colours and art. I’ve recently started my 13 month old on using crayons and I think this board book will come in handy to reinforce what the three primary colours are.

The text is predictable for adults but this is what young children like. It is short and simple and will definitely keep the younger ones focused.