How I Started to Read to My Children and Why You Should Too!
Listen the audio version:
Narrated by: Alise, 10yrs
During my childhood one of my favourite things to do were reading stories and listening to them on the radio. What I remember the most are those long and warm-hearted evenings we spent in our summer holiday home, surrounded by the scent of freshly mowed grass creeping into our noses... I adored the feeling of climbing into my snuggly bunk bed and wrapping within enormous blankets and surrounding myself with more than plenty of pillows. But I did that for one sole reason – to have my dads calm and warming arm wrapped around me whilst we listened to the adventurous stories on the radio.
I always imagined that I would do the same thing with my children. To read with emphasis, expressions and such enthusiasm, so that they can almost imagine the scene of the story drawing them in, almost like in the movies. I could almost visualise this idyllic scene from a movie where the whole family is cosily settled on the sofa, wrapped with millions of layers of blankets, slowly sipping their hot chocolate brews whilst listening to the story- how beautiful - I truly believed that this will be my life.
Now I am a mother of four and I must admit, for a very long time I did not truly experience the joy of reading to my children.
My children have a very small age difference which allowed us to split our duties as parents early on. My husband was responsible for all of the evening rituals – bathing and putting the children to sleep. Riddle time, shape drawing on backs with fingers and chatting about life were all part of the “sleep ritual”.
One day my husband had to go on a month long business trip and I had to take over his well-established “sleep ritual” with children, that time I learnt that reading together can be an amazing experience. Every evening, whilst my husband was away, I read to my children. And I relished every moment. Especially our conversations afterwards where they shared their thoughts and feelings, asked questions and continued to amaze me with their developed minds and world views, even long after the story times. When my husband returned, I still felt joyful about returning his duties (yes, I’ve got to admit, I quite enjoyed my quiet retreat whilst he put the children away to bed 😉 ).
To this very moment, reading to children exhausted me very quickly. During the first minutes of reading I caught myself yawning and getting drowsy. Sometimes I even noticed my mind wandering off in a different direction… catching the to-do list and meaningless activities. Deep down I have always known that reading to children is very, very important so I pushed myself on to read more to my children no matter what.
We are all very different people – there are parents who love to read to their children and eagerly await those moments. But there are also parents who feel guilty for not doing this at all or doing without the joy and passion.
Life Taught Me The Hard Way
A little more than 2 years ago our family endured some hard times. After which I noticed that my oldest child (at that time she was 6 years old) became unsatisfied with life. She got angry easily and could not enjoy the good things we faced daily.
I wanted to introduce her to the book called “Pollyanna”. It was a book which I enjoyed a lot. Mostly because it taught me the game of “Rejoicing”. It was very simple, yet very powerful. These rules were straight forward – the aim was to find a reason to be happy in every circumstance. The more difficult it was to find something to rejoice about – the bigger the challenge! I thought that this simple game could help my daughter too, and something miraculous happened – I read the book in front of her and I did not yawn and I did not feel sleepy at all. In fact, I waited with great joy till the next time I would have the chance to read to her.
Reading with children can be a very blessed time for the both of you. It can give you lots of positive emotions and topics to talk about. It uncovers your children’s deepest thoughts. It’s like a mirror to your child’s soul.
However it’s important to choose the right books:
- They have to be interesting for the both of you (the parent and the child).
- The place where you are matters too - enough light and right level of cosiness is what works for me - just like in my snuggly bunk bed at our summer house.
Use Flockmen in Story Time
I have found that it boosts my children's imagination and fuels further conversations when we complement reading with open ended objects such as Flockmen toys. But, the object choice very much depends on the story itself.
What To Do If Reading With Children Is Not Your Ambition?
I suggest you try listening to audio books with stories and fairy tales. I prefer Audible or local book stores which is very convenient when driving with children! By the way, if you are new to Audible, your first book is for free.
I recommend to listen to the story alongside your child so that you can engage into discussions. That is the most rewarding part to me. As late 17th century Irish politician, orator and philosopher Edmund Burke once said:
“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”
Besides, it does not matter if the mother or the father reads the book, it could even be your grandparents or other close relatives to the family or even be the nanny! As long as the person is genuinely interested in the story and discussing it with children it doesn’t matter.
And the best part is, by reading together you’re sacrificing little, but gaining huge:
- Quality time with children (especially if your child’s primary language of love is quality time and physical presence),
- Developed vocabulary from early age,
- Understanding of complex sentence building,
- Understanding of story telling (the structure and the emphasis),
- Boosting imagination.
Many things in our lives are periodic and unnecessary. For example – my period of not reading to my children is over. Children grow fast. Sometimes it makes you stop, think and wonder because you suddenly realise that your child has grown in a particular area and will never be the same. The time that you have with your children to read together – isn’t that long at all. It passes quickly, unnoticeably.
I will be happy to hear your TOP 3 books for reading or listening with children. Please state what age your children are too. Thank you!
Elanor H. Porter
"The 5 Love Languages of Children"