Since starting this blog I’ve become synonymous with children’s books to my friends and family and I don’t mind it one bit (better than being the gecko lady or the weird clown collecting lady!)
And often I am asked for tips on great books and on getting kids into reading and doing it more.
I tell them that it’s like trying to get kids eating vegetables, sometimes you have to sneak it in to whet their appetite and then before you know it, your child is that broccoli-eating-book-devouring babe you’ve always dreamed of.
Despite my many other neuroses I don’t fret about my daughter eating enough fruits and veggies and about how much she gets in during one sitting, I try and focus on the long-term objective: helping her develop a healthy and balanced relationship with food (think somewhere in between Oprah Winfrey and Demi Moore Post-Ashton).
And I approach getting my child reading the same way and here are some of my tips that can help you too:
- Be a reading role model: Simple stuff here, if your kids see you reading then they are more likely to become readers themselves. Don’t stress if you aren’t a literature buff, read magazines and newspapers or check out your local library for books on ANY topic the strikes your fancy. Read the latest tell-all from your favourite celebrity or sports hero, check out some gardening tips or hey, they even have books on geckos if you are into that.
- Display, display, display: If real estate is all about location then encouraging reading is all about making your kids’ books accessible. Invest in some kid-friendly bookshelves ( I got these Imaginarium Book Sling ones for both upstairs and downstairs and it’s rekindled my daughters interest in reading again), keep a few here and there in the house in places where you often stop to perch or even in the car, you’ll be surprised at how much more reading you can do that way.
- Read out loud: Sure it feels a little awkward at the beginning but after a while you get used to it and children love to hear the voices of those that love them even in the womb. It’s soothing and comforting. If you don’t believe me, check in the next time your partner is reading to your child. As you listen, your breathing will slow down and so will your heart rate. Plus, all that practice will help you master your voice for your next work presentation!
- Opt for a book even when TV will do: Yes, television is really useful for distracting our kids and I’m not above the use of a strategic movie to give me a little break when I need one but when I know that my daughter needs a little extra entertaining (while eating her lunch, during long car rides or while waiting in a line), I forgo the Netflix and pull out a book and sometimes turn up the acting! Not only does it get her eating far more of her food than a beloved show ever would, it also sneaks in some extra reading time! You don’t always need Disney, books with flaps to open or pieces to move can be just as exciting!
- No books, no problem:Say you are out with the wee ones and someone has a breakdown because she needs a nap or a snack (and it isn’t you!) Don’t even bother rooting around in that overflowing mammoth you call a diaper bag for a book just read signs. Read the poster outside of the Gap and draw attention to the large Manchu Wok menu. Read street signs and ads on the bus stops and try to find the letters in the alphabet in order or with older kids try and find funny words and for Pete’s sake try and make it fu
- Make reading a ritual:Including books part of a ritual, like winding down for sleep, going on the potty or waiting for Daddy to come home. I try to associate books with good things as much as possible. Like with brussel sprouts and peas, making them into a smiley face on the plate or pairing them with yummy cheesy: we all know that positive association works way better than forcing them to eat it!
- Keeping Offering: Experts suggest that a new food may take up to introductions to a toddler before they decide they like it! The moral of the story: if at first they don’t seem to like it (beans or books) try, try again!
Happy eating and reading (maybe even together?!)