Are you ready to deepen the bond with your child through reading?
Storytime has always been a favorite of mine. As a kid, I would line up all my dolls, stuffed animals, and other toys and read to them as if I were a teacher or librarian. Kind of nerdy, now that I think about it 😉
Reading with your kids shouldn’t feel like a chore – but there are times it does. Especially after a long day when everyone is tired and bedtime keeps dragging on.
As my kids have grown, I have tried many different tactics to make storytime enjoyable and memorable for all of us. I am super excited to share with you the 7 secrets I have discovered on this path to storytime magic!
Secret #1: Cozy up
Nothing encourages storytime bonding more than a cozy space!
Make your reading space inviting by choosing somewhere you can comfortably sit together and where everyone has good visibility of the book. Setting the scene helps younger children associate the activity with the location, so they know what is coming next.
The most important thing is that everyone feels included!
Make it happen: Where is the ideal reading space in your home? How can you make it more inviting?
Secret #2: Embellish
One of the simplest ways to get kiddos excited about storytime is drama!
Reading a book about a farm? Make obnoxious animal sounds on each page! Have a really grumpy character to emulate? Bust out that frown! This can also be a quick way to grab back a child’s attention if they seem to be losing interest.
My personal favorite is “whisper yelling” for comedic effect when a character is trying to prove a point. My daughter giggles every time!
Feeling a little shy? Don’t stress! Your child may be surprised at first, but once they hear you read like this a few times, they will be begging for more!
Make it happen: It is easier to practice embellishment on books you have previously read so you know what to expect. Grab one of your favorites and give it a try!
Secret #3: Take it slow
Cultivating a reading routine takes time. If you aren’t regularly reading with your child, it is best to start small and build from there.
As with any activity, being fully present when reading to your kids is crucial. If you are constantly glancing at your phone or rushing through the book, they will feel that this activity isn’t worth your time (or theirs) and may be less willing to participate.
Make it happen: Establish a regular reading routine by starting small, 1-3 books. If this works well for a week and you are left wanting more, try adding a book or two each day!
Secret #4: Provide Choices
Your kids (and you!) probably have favorite books they love to read over and over. While it is fun to indulge sometimes, reading can become a real drag if the same books are repeated too many times.
My daughter went through a phase where she wanted a particular ABC book read every night…and ONLY that book. It wasn’t long before I began dreading storytime, as this wasn’t a particularly engaging book.
Nothing makes storytime less magical than being forced to listen to books only someone else has chosen. One way to combat this is by always including a few books in your routine. If you are reading to multiple kids, have each choose one book.
Make it happen: Next time you read, have each person choose a book. This process allows your child to practice both decision-making and turn-taking.
Secret #5: Dig deeper
Some of my favorite picture books are those without any words at all because they force the reader to use their imagination and tell the story using images alone.
Go beyond the writing and ask your child questions about what is happening.
Engaging them in discussion opens the door to great conversation and builds critical thinking.
Since my daughter was born, I have used this method when reading with her. She began responding to my questions and prompts at about a year and still loves to read this way!
Make it happen: Next time you read with your child, challenge yourself to ask one question per page. Make these questions open-ended to get their creative wheels turning. Even a question as simple as “how many red things do you see?” can make a difference in their comprehension.
Secret #6: Keep it fresh
Similar to Secret #4, having a variety of options available can make or break the magic of storytime.
Picture books aren’t cheap, so adding to your collection regularly may not be in the budget. Try going to the library instead!
We make it a priority to visit the library regularly. We bring home between 10-15 books that my daughter or I have chosen.
Another way to make books feel new again is by rotating what’s we have out. Swapping the books out every few months keeps lots of options around without overflowing your shelves.
Make it happen: Visit your local library and bring home some new finds. Add them to your rotation of daily reading and see which ones become instant favorites!
Secret #7: Be consistent
By being diligent about building a reading routine, you will communicate the value of books with your child.
Approach reading with realism and be prepared for things to not be perfect from the start. Some days reading will feel more natural, whereas others it may seem like a chore. That’s ok! Just keep going.
Over time, you will become more confident and your child will be more engaged! It only takes 15 minutes a day to build a positive reading atmosphere.
Make it happen: Commit to reading at least one book a day for a week. If that goes well, up the number to two or three. Keep going, and before long, you will have established a solid routine!
Are you ready to create a magical storytime experience with your kids?
I hope you found these tips actionable and feel more confident about creating a wonderful reading experience that will be enjoyable for the whole family!
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