When I was pregnant with my son I had some idealistic, glamorous ideas of what motherhood would be. I always knew I wanted to read to our little guy as much as possible. I imagined us snuggling each night, reading a book together, until he fell asleep. You know, like the sweet bedtime scenes we see in the movies. Then my son was born. At first, story time didn’t go as planned. Over time, however, it has become a daily and nightly routine that we both look forward to.
As a teacher I have seen, firsthand, the importance of reading to children, and providing as much exposure to language as possible. I also recently read an article about how setting aside time to read together creates an association between love, quality time and reading. What a wonderful gift that would be for our munchkin.
So, I was determined to make reading a part of our daily life. And I did. When my son was a newborn, we read E. B. White’s Stuart Little. Now, a year and a half later, reading is a major part of how we spend each day. We read before each nap, before bedtime, and throughout the day. There are a few practices and strategies we have established overtime, to make our story time routine such a success.
Tips and Tricks for Establishing a Successful Story Time Routine
Yes, I know it feels silly to read to a newborn. I mean, what do you even read to them? Honestly? Read anything and everything. When they are tiny, babies don’t understand what you are reading, but it is beneficial for them to hear language, intonation, different words, etc. And as an added bonus, your voice might lull your baby to sleep.
There was a point, around four months, when my son was completely disinterested in books. He did not want me to read to him. But I kept trying, and eventually he began to love story time.
Integrate Reading Into Your Daily Routine
If you make reading a part of your daily routine, it will become habit, and you are more likely to consistently read to your munchkin. And, with this consistency, your child will begin to not only look forward to story time, but they will expect it!
Try Different Books
Different babies will be interested in different topics, images, and types of books. Be flexible, and open minded. Try bright colors, textures and interactive features. Their favorite stories might surprise you! My son is partial to animal books, especially when they include animal sounds.
Make Books Accessible
Keep book stations around the house, and make sure they are easy to reach. Our books are in baskets and crates around the house. That way, the little guy can see his books, and reach them easily. Now, he’ll simply bring mommy or daddy a book whenever he wants to read!
Allow them to help
Let your child pick the books they want to read for story time. I limit my son to three or four books for each reading session. He excitedly selects his books, and hands them to me. Allow your baby to turn the page. This is great for coordination, and they learn the appropriate time to move on to the next page. And, eventually, allow them to help you read. You will find that your baby learns key phrases from the stories, over time. Let them chime in!
Rotate your Book Selection
If your child becomes disinterested in reading, it may just be a bout of boredom. If this is the case, try rotating the books you have available, to keep story time fresh and exciting. You can divide books into groups and store them in bins or crates. Make only one set of books available at a time, and rotate the sets each week. We do this with toys as well! You’d be amazed at how well this type of rotation system works!
You may notice a theme here; allow your child to be actively involved in story time. With a little patience and persistence, you can establish a regular reading routine with your baby.
What are some of your strategies or practices for reading to your baby? I would love to hear your suggestions, as well! Leave them in the comments below!
What books do we love? Check out a few of my recent posts: