My daughter is sixteen months old and we just finished the The Last Battle, which is the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. We began reading the entire series the day she came home from the hospital. Reading with her eventually became a routine that soothed and quieted her, and now, when I rock her before her nap every day, she points towards the book near our rocking chair, wanting to be read to.
When I pick the book up, she settles in with her blankie and “bear-bear” and lets out this quiet sigh as she snuggles in close. She usually enters dreamland with my voice reading to her. It’s become our thing to do and I have all sorts of plans for the books we’re going to read as she gets older.
My husband and I also read together. The books we read together usually consist of marriage books, which lend to discussions we may never have had without the nudge a particular chapter gave us.
On rare, but cherished occasions, we’ll all curl up on the floor together and look at books. This isn’t normally something my husband would enjoy doing, but having a child has changed that for him. Although he is not a reader himself, he does all he can to read to our girl every day and sometimes I join both of them.
There are many advantages to reading together as a family.
How precious will my memories be of my newborn daughter held in my arms as she nursed contentedly and getting lost in the land of Narnia every afternoon! When the day comes that she is too old to snuggle with me, I will look back with fondness to her afternoon nap times in which she pressed into me and watched my face as I read to her.
Hopefully, it’s a memory for her, too. I hope she remembers the times Mama took out of her busy day to just open up a book and travel into a land of adventure, mystery, brilliant colors, and delight. I hope she looks back on the three of us curled up on the floor in a bean bag, near the book case, with Daddy making silly sounds as he read and Mama laughing at him.
It instills a love for reading
Books can grow and expand a child’s imagination unlike anything else. TV and movies create the scenes and characters for children, but with books, children create those things in their minds themselves.
A TV can’t be toted to the doctor’s office or on vacation, but books certainly can. They’re easily carried entertainment and a child need never be bored if they love to read.
Reading can help language development
As children are read to, even infants, they are being exposed to words repeatedly — words that their brains will be busy assimilating. Giving infants and toddlers both audio and visual stimulation will help them build their language skills.
Reading helps build connections
As already written previously, my husband and I have had discussions we may never have had if we hadn’t read certain books together. We have read books that have challenged, strengthened, and affirmed our marriage.
There is also the connection we have with our daughter because we took time each day to read to her. Instead of putting her to sleep with crib toys and CD players and instead of leaving her to entertain herself, we read to and with her at nap time, bed time, and in between.
This is a connection that often lasts into the pre-teen years
I know of several families where the parents are still, even into the teen years, having reading times with their children. They usually make this an evening time affair and have worked through the classics, with parents and teens all taking a turn at reading. Surprisingly enough, the majority of these teens enjoy this reading time, and if asked, plan on doing the same with their children some day. It’s uncommon in today’s culture for parents and teens to have something they enjoy doing together on a daily basis and I think it’s super cool that reading is that “something” for these families.
Reading aloud helps your own pronunciation skills
I find that I tend to get rather lazy when it comes to my speech some days. I speak too fast, too quietly, and not articulately. Reading aloud (as weird as it sounds) has helped me become more aware of my speech — how I pronounce words and the expression I give to them. This awareness has carried over into my everyday conversations and I feel as if I am more deliberate and articulate when I speak now.
If you aren’t a family that reads, the possibilities of books are endless if you are trying to figure out how to get started. Below are some lists to help you get your library started. (These are simply starter ideas and are not in any way exhaustive. There is a whole world of literature out there, waiting to be read!)
Books for infants and toddlers
The Hungry Caterpillar
Mr Brown can Moo, can You?
Pat the Bunny
Guess How Much I Love You
Books for Preschoolers
Dr Seuss books (the kids love the rhyming in these books!)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed
The Napping House
Corduroy (there are several books in this series)
The Roly, Poly Puppy
The Giving Tree
The Bernstein Bear books
Books for elementary ages
Grimm’s Fairy Tales (though some may opt to not read certain of these stories, given the “scary” factor)
Tales of Peter Rabbit
Brer Rabbit stories
Children’s Book of Virtues
The Children’s Book of Heroes
The Children’t Book of America
Books for middle school
The American Girl Series
The Wizard of Oz Series
Little House on the Prairie
Anne of Green Gables Series
Chronicles of Narnia
Girl of the Limberlost
My Side of the Mountain
A Wrinkle in Time
Books for high schoolers
Lord of the Rings Series, starting with The Hobbit
Barnes and Noble Classics Series
Books for Married Couples
His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair Proof Marriage by Dr. William Harley
The Five Love Languages by Dr Gary Chapman
Red Hot Monogamy by Bill and Pam Farrell
The DNA of Relationships by Gary Smalley