Remember snuggling with your child, book between you, the scent of baby shampoo under your nose? Most of us think such moments are gone after our snuggler learns to read. But they don’t have to be! Save the ritual, and you can help her (or him) become an even better reader than she is right now.

All children need and adore stories. Yet studies find out that there were only 35% of parents who read their kid’s bedtime stories. Parents all know what it’s like to get home after a long day – you’re trying to do the dinner, get the bath on, feed the cat (or even just find the cat). Sometimes the last thing you want to do is curl up and read, especially if it’s a book you’ve read a thousand times before. This is one of the reasons for not reading to their kids, while others conveyed that they couldn’t lure their kids away from the TV and computer games. 

Well, try harder. Reading to your kids is the absolute best time parents and children have together. You snuggle up; it’s calm and cozy. There is nothing that reduces stress more than 20 minutes of reading together. Plus, reading bedtime stories is some of the best times you will have with your kids. So here are some of my top tips to make reading with your little beloved a special time for everyone.

Make Reading Part of the Routine

There are lots of great reasons why to read your kids a bedtime story. But perhaps one of the best is that bedtime stories can help to establish a healthy bedtime routine. Even from a young age, this can help your child sleep better.

Having a set routine each night before bedtime signals to your kid that it’s time to start winding down. Reading them a bedtime story is an important part of this habit because it takes their mind off of the day and ignites their imagination.

Pick the Right Books

There are lots of children’s books out there. It can be a fairytale, space and time exploration, or a good animal story with moral lessons. But what’s the best indication of the right book for your child? Whether it’s developmentally appropriate for their current age.

Many factors can go into deciding what’s age-appropriate—from the complexity of the word to the colors in the illustrations. Doing your homework before reading is important. It would also help if you and your child both choose new stories together; it can be part of the adventure!

Do the Voices

What you’re reading is important, but so is how you’re reading it. One of the best ways to get your kid to understand the context of what’s happening in the book is from your delivery. They’re depending on you to be an emotional translator for them.  

One of the most practical ways to do this is giving each of the characters silly voices. And make sure to do all of the sound effects. Your voice is the magic, the special ingredient that turns a book into a cherished story. But what if you’re no good at silly voices? Who cares—you’re not on Broadway; you’re reading to your kid. Have fun together! 

Take Turns

One of the biggest benefits of reading to your child is promoting their literacy. The more you read to your child, the more they’ll understand and appreciate the importance of reading. And what better way to do that than by involving them in the process? How? Alternate reading pages or chapters. Encourage them and gently guide them when they make mistakes. As you read, ask them questions about the book, like “And then what happened?” If they are too young to read, let them hold on to the pages of the book. These things matter. So get your child involved.

Whatever interests your child, there is a book out there just for them. Some books are loud, some books are soft and floaty, some books are educational or emotional and might be a gentle talking point. Some books are laugh-out-loud funny and some books are repetitive and safe. You might find it useful to have some firm favorites you could rely on so that when you did read a book that led to the discussion there was something familiar and well-loved you could return to and end the day on.

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