Establish a Reading Ritual

Bond with Your Child through Reading

Here’s a confession: I do not enjoy sitting down on the ground to play with my kids.  I know, that’s a terrible thing to confess, but my gut tells me that some of you reading might actually feel the same way too.  

That’s not to say I won’t do it when my kids crave that time with me, just that it’s not the most enjoyable part of my day.  

So, if you were thinking that’s what this blog post was going to be about, I’m telling you now, it’s not!

There is a much easier (in my opinion) way to bond with my kids.  I have a 7 year-old and a 3 year-old (not to mention, one currently in my belly as well), and they both love this daily ritual.  And, I believe it will serve them well throughout their life.  We practice it every day.

Okay, enough suspense!  What is this daily ritual I’m writing about?  Every day, I bond with each of my kids by reading to them.  That’s it. So simple, and yet we all love it. Our reading time has become one of the favorite parts of my day.

Mom and daughter reading from a storybook

The Perks of Reading to Your Child

There are many tangible and intangible perks to reading to your child.  I think by far, my favorite perk is how connected this activity makes me feel to each individual child. We both end up looking forward to that precious time each day.

Want more research-based reasons to read to your child?  Studies have shown that reading to your child from the time they are infants can actually make them smarter!  Say what??

How exactly does this happen?  By reading to your child, you stimulate a number of regions in the left part (logical side) of his/ her brain.  How cool is that!

It’s also true that as your child grows, she might express more interest in learning to read herself because she’s been read to over the years. 

One last cool stat: children who are read to for 20 minutes per day are likely to score 90% better on standardized tests than their peers who aren’t read to. 

These statistics seem to speak for themselves.  If you’d like to read more about the impact reading aloud to your child has, check out this link:   

School-aged child reading to himself

How to Get Started

If you love the idea of reading to your child(ren), but don’t know how to start, here’s a few helpful hints:

  1. Decide when and where you will read with your child. The pandemic brought my son and me an unexpected benefit- extra time in the morning before school work begins.  Since he is doing his first grade work from home currently, his first online meeting is not until 9:15 each day.  I started trying to wake him up fifteen minutes before so he could get dressed and prepared for his meeting.  I was often met with grumbling and complaining.  Then I decided to start “reading” him awake.  I’ll go in his room, turn on the lights and greet him before gently launching into whatever chapter book we’re reading through together.  I read for 10-15 minutes and by the time I’m done, he’s awake and ready to get out of bed.  It’s a great, gentle way to start our day.

You should consider you and your child’s schedule when trying to decide when your reading time should be.  Morning, afternoon, or evening after dinner or before bed- it all works, but do try to make it a consistent time each day so your child comes to anticipate the routine. 

Also, choose a space where you will read and prepare the space by making it comfy for both of you. 

  1. Decide on a book/ books to read.  If your child is school-aged, he or she will probably bring books home from their school library.  You could start with one of those books.  You could also choose a book that you enjoyed when you were a child.  Kids often love to hear stories from their parent’s childhood.  You can choose a book based on your child’s interest or even make a special process of going to the bookstore or library to choose a book together.  It doesn’t really matter what you read; your child will soak up the time spent with YOU!
  2. Engage your child in the reading with questions and statements.  Okay, the teacher in me is really coming out here, but it’s important to engage your child in the reading by asking him or her questions about their understanding of the reading.  It could be as simple as asking, “Do you remember what happened yesterday in our reading?” Or something like, “What do you think will happen next with this character?” Show your child any illustrations in the book and point out what’s happening in the pictures that pertains to the words you’ve read.  It can also be a fun technique to stop at a really interesting part in the story so you both anticipate your reading time the next day.  

See how much fun this can be?

Book Picks (by age):

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, providing me with a commission if you purchase a product listed here at no additional cost to you.) 

If you’re still unsure of a book you’d like to start with, I’d like to leave you with some of this family’s favorite suggestions.  I currently only have young kids in the house, but I’ll give you some ideas for several age ranges:

Young child reading a board book

0-3 years: 

Anything by Sandra Boynton!  Her stuff is so cute, although Snuggle Puppy has to be our favorite of all time.

Where is Baby’s (Bellybutton/ Mommy/ Toes, Ears & Nose) Series.  Babies and toddlers alike love these cutely illustrated lift-the-flap books by Karen Katz. Plus they help babies learn their body parts!

Daniel Tiger’s 5-Minute Stories.  My 3 year-old cannot get enough of Daniel Tiger, and I happen to love how so many “grown-up” topics are handled by Daniel and the others in his world. 

3-7 years: 

Disney 5-Minute Snuggle Stories.  My toddler and I are currently reading a story from this book each night and loving it!

Pete the Cat 5-Minute Bedtime Stories.  If you’ve never read Pete the Cat, you owe it to yourself and your child to check him out!  Groovy, dude! 

Pig the Pug book collection.  My son showed me these books and they are so fun and hilarious!  Mr. Pig is quite the character.

7-10 years:

Charlotte’s Web.  One of the finest stories on friendship you and your child will ever read!  This was the first chapter book my son and I finished together and it brought tears to my eyes, even as an adult,

The Boxcar Children.  I grew up reading these books and they ignited my imagination!  I’ve really enjoyed rereading them with my son.

Chronicles of Narnia.  I just bought the entire 7-book series for my son for Christmas.  We haven’t started them yet, but I can’t wait!  These books transported me to beautiful Narnia as a kid, and I’m sure they’ll do the same for my son when we read them. 

I hope you will try out this reading ritual with your kids, even if for the simple pleasure of enjoying a story together.  Your kids will love you for it!  What books do you like to read with your kids?

Reading Ritual and reading with child