;widows: 2;-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px;text-decoration-style: initial;text-decoration-color: initial;word-spacing:0px’>I encourage parents of school age children to take advantage of this blessing. Take a few moments before bedtime each night to read to your kids. The key? Don’t make it too long. You will burn them out. For us, each chapter took about 10-15 minutes max to read.
We established a couple of ground rules for our reading time.
1.) Either girl could say she was tired at any point, and without judgment, we would conclude immediately and finish the chapter the next night.
2.) We took a break in the summer. This might sound counter-intuitive as you have more time in the summer. We found nightly summer reading more difficult with slumber parties, vacations, relaxed schedules, and other events. Eventually, the girls had their own required summer reading for school. It was just easier for us to resume reading in the school year. It actually became a great motivation in the school year to hurry and get ready for bed.
3.) Nightly reading is not a time for discipline. I had two quiet girls, but I now have the joy of watching my son-in-law read to my active, five-year-old grandson. I love their reading philosophy. This is not a time for discipline. Sometimes my grandson listens quietly, sometimes he is bouncing off the walls, fidgeting, asking questions and chattering. Either way is fine. The routine of hearing mom or dad read over him is more important than him actually understanding every word or comprehending the plot. This is not school. If your child is having fun and mildly interested in the story, it is a success.
Here are six benefits to reading to your children at an early age.
1. You have their undivided attention. Their role is critical as they have to concentrate on what’s being read. There can be no distractions or multi-tasking at reading time. It is just you and them and the good ole book. (Okay, maybe the e-reader these days!) See the above note if you are just beginning to read to an active child.
2. Imagination is exercised. I envy the time when my mom and dad would gather around the radio (remember that term?) each Saturday night as kids and listen to the next installment of their favorite program. What did they see when they listened? Your creativity is stretched when listening. You envision your own sights and sounds. You see your own sunset or landscape. You have your own image of the hero. There is no screen activity, app, movie, or game that replaces reading.
3. Reading expands their world. They realize there are other issues, other problems to be solved, other plots than just their own cares. When a kid begins to see beyond himself/herself, growth and maturity can bloom.
4. Children who are read to become children who read. When the girls were small I read the Chronicles of Narnia to them. It took several years to get through, but what a world they encountered! A few years later it was almost overwhelming to see them curled up with their own advanced novels, far surpassing the level of reading that I do to this day!
I was not a reader as a kid. In fact, I was 23 and out of seminary before I ever read voluntarily. It has been an amazing blessing to see my girls grow in this area of their lives, beginning at such an early age.
5. Completing a book gives the family a sense of accomplishment. This is something the family did. The team persisted and conquered another series. Completing a series actually built momentum to tackle another series.
6. Reading opens doors to share the gospel with your kids. Whether or not your’e reading overtly Christian books, reading opens doors to talk to your children about Jesus, good and evil, and our need for a Savior. Reading invites discussion about spiritual matters, and creates a regular environment of conversation with your kids. Take advantage of these moments to share Christ when they arise.
A humbling honor came to me the other night as we babysat our grandchildren. Our 6-year-old asked me to read the next chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to him. He and his daddy are reading through it.
I encourage you to pick up a short chapter book this week, and build nightly reading into your routine. It might take a couple nights to adjust, but reading together may just become one of your favourite parenting memories too.