Do you have a bedtime routine? And Is reading a part of your bedtime routine? For us at 5 years old, there is a very rare day, in months maybe, when we fall asleep without reading a book. We may read one or we may read 10 but read we must!
I know lots of people start reading to the baby right from the womb. I wasn’t aware of this and so I didn’t start that early. Though I have an obsession for books and I was very regular and passionate about reading as much as I could while I was pregnant. I was also very mindful to the kind of books I read since I have a strong faith in the Wisdom that is absorbed by child while in womb, also known in India as garbhsanskar.
I started reading to my daughter somewhere around the time when she was 6 months old. At that time it was just picture books with very few words here and there. But we made it part of our bedtime routine. Very soon she was glued to books. Even during the day she had pick them up from her shelf and bring them to me to read out to her. If you are looking for suggestion for books to read to babies do check out this post . It has amazing suggestions.
Watching her interest I kept looking for more and more books for her, joined many a facebook groups for pre-loved books, bought from Amazon. My husband isn’t much of a reader, and he had laugh it out that this months old baby has more books than I ever read in life.
Now Myra is 5 years and she is in love with books just the way I am. She gets so excited at the sight of new books on her shelf. For her the bedtime book reading session is the favourite part of the day. Even though she is reading very well already and can read through mostly on her own, almost any book. But yet she loves to snuggle close to mom and dad at end of day and have us read to her. Though we do indulge in lot of bargaining as to how many books we would read, we do ensure we read every single day no matter what. Now as she is older it isn’t the same one line picture books. The stories are much longer and sometimes after a tired day I really don’t want to read out aloud. Still no matter how tired I am, I may bargain on the number of books we shall read, but we do read.
Its not that we read only at bedtime but for us that is a non negotiable reading time in the day. This way it is ensured it becomes a daily practice. We also do read in the day, but the day routine is very uncertain most of the times while bedtime is something we are more certain about. So whatever time bedtime happens we read and it helps us unwind. Hence I am more concentrated here on bedtime reading.
When I started reading to her I wasn’t aware of the numerous benefits of reading. I started only because I was very passionate about books and I loved the idea of introducing them to her. I also started because for us at least for the first year TV was a complete no no!
But over the years I did realise that reading had so many benefits. Sharing some of the ways reading benefitted us here with you so you are more motivated to start this awesome habit with your child:
Early communication skills
With all the reading we did, my daughter had a burst of vocabulary early on. Of course there are many factors that play a role but reading definitely is important. Because when you are reading you go beyond the printed words. Looking through books together gives you so much to talk to a small child about. It isn’t just limited to the book you read, she even use to connect things in real life with the things in the books. It makes them learn so many new words each day.
Bedtime Reading – Bonding time
Bedtime reading helped us bond together at the end of day. Though reading must and can be done any time of the day, in fact for us it was also a big replacement to screen time. I never used games on the mobile with my child. Very early on I had see her pick a book from the shelf and scan through the pages, also thereby giving me some minutes to myself (so precious to a new mom). But especially the night time reading routine was an awesome way to get cosy end of day. It was a beautiful ritual that we started early on and follow till date. And as she grew, with all the tantrums and rough days it helped us re establish the bond and end the day more peacefully and in a very loving manner. Cuddling close with your child at night is also very comforting to them.
Learning in a very fun way.
I never realised how much my child happened to be learning while she read. Especially through the picture books, picture dictionaries . Apart for stories we did read a lot of books about animals, some kids encyclopedia, etc. It was only later when she had repeat something read in a book that I realised the learning that was happening while we had fun reading.
Helps ignite imagination
As they grow stories help kids grow their imagination. Especially as compared to watching TV, reading books is such a beautiful way to make your imagination run wild. I would see her stories from books she read reflect in her games. And I still often find her asking me questions related to a story we read much after we finished it.
Helps in developing reading skills
My daughter is 5 and most of the books she can read on her own. Of course we also did jolly phonics which was a great help in her picking up reading early on, but looking at all those books and having them around her also had a great impact. I bought many early readers for her like the bob books set, but before I knew I had find her reading much bigger books. She of course initially picked books that were fewer words but gradually she was reading just about everything! And what a confidence builder it was for her. Every time she had come and tell me “ Mama I read that book on my own” there was so much pride in her voice.
A wonderful calming tool during upset moods and meltdowns:
I have spent a long time nurturing my daughter alone. In times of meltdowns and tantrums,books played such a beautiful role in helping her calm and feel better. Many a times she had wake up upset from her afternoon nap, sitting with her favourite book helped us feel happy and chirpy in no time at all. Her love for books was so much that it helped her feel better.
Builds a healthy habit for years to come:
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” – Emilie Buchwald
Reading is the most awesome habbit one can have. Books take you places and helps you meet so many people. They are a reservoir of knowledge. It is a very good hobby and an early start really helps!
Helps improve attention
Small children can hardly sit at one place for few minutes. Myra was also a very active child. I of course gave her lots of outdoor time to run and play.But I also feel that once in a while it i important to sit and focus. Reading really helps kids focus on something for a long time and helps them develop the habbit of sitting and paying attention to something.
Helps relax down:
Whether it is a bedtime reading session or middle of the day reding sesson, for toddlers and small children who are always running around, reading is such a beautiful way to relax. And also for us moms tired after running crazy with the little ones 😉
How to make bedtime reading Fun for your little one!
- Use all the dramatic skills you may have. Create interest especially when it is a story. Even when just looking at pictures with a baby try to create interest with voice modulations and making it funny. My daughter used to absolutely love this!
- Bring in a lot of joy and excitement into reading. Make it fun. It shouldn’t be a task to be completed. You must share the excitement with them, even when you are reading the same book over for a 100th time! This helps them relate positively to books
- Cuddle close to your child. The benefit of especially bedtime reading is that it helps you create a bond just before the child goes to sleep. So warm memories with the parent will carry over to sleep. Cuddling makes the child feel safe, warm and loved. Also they develop a loving association with books.
- Let the child look and ask questions, the questions will increase as they grow. We may be tired but it is important that we remember that reading time with the child is special and go with their flow and not try to rush.
- You may also engage the child further by asking questions. You may ask how they feel about something, or how would they deal with it, or who is their favourite character.
- Turn off all kinds of distractions. This should be solely a time for two of you.
Developing a love for reading is the most awesome thing you can do. And it is pretty simple and you will realise that even you enjoy the journey as much. It would help you develop a beautiful bond with your child. Another very awesome thing for kids is storytelling. Do read about storytelling benefits to kids on this awesome blog by a friend.
I hope that if you haven’t been already doing it this post gives you enough motivation to buy a couple of books for your child and start as soon as you can. Even if you are a working mom bedtime reading is something you can easily fit into your schedule. In fact it is a wonderful way to spend time with your child.
If you have a older toddler or pre schooler, do check this video that I recently made sharing our favourite books.
Do share your experiences and if you are just starting how did it go.