Bonding with grandchildren over books
Children start learning to read long before they start school. And who teaches them? You do! When you read aloud, you are helping your grandchildren become readers. You’re also bonding with your grandchildren and creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Reading to a grandchild is easy and lots of fun. But it does take some preparation. Here are some tips for making the most of the time you spend reading with grandchildren.
Tips for choosing good books
How can you possibly choose the right books for your grandchildren when there are so many books to choose from?
First, ask your grandchildren. If they are old enough, your grandchildren can tell you about their favorite authors, and about the things that interest them. When in doubt, take the kids to the library. Let them choose the books they want to read. Borrowing library books is free, so it’s a good way to try out books and authors you’ve never heard of. So choosing a disappointing book won’t cost you a cent. If you discover a gem, you can buy it later and give it as a gift.
Next, ask other adults. Your librarian or bookstore clerk can help you pick good children’s books. Your friends can tell you about the books their grandchildren like.
Finally, read the lists. Many organizations put out lists of good books for young children. Check with the American Library Association or the International Reading Association. Your library may also have its own list.
Start reading to your grandchild when he or she is a baby. This may sound silly. But babies will enjoy hearing the sound of your voice. Try reciting nursery rhymes or reading simple books. Use a pleasant, sing-song voice. Let a baby play with books that are sturdy and drool-proof. That child will be hooked on books before she is out of diapers!
Read a children’s book to yourself before you read it to your grandchild, says the Oregon State University Extension Service. That way you will know the book well enough to give it a lively reading. Make reading more fun by reading slowly and using different voices for different characters.
Be prepared to repeat. Reading to a child often means reading the same book over and over and over again. Kids hear something new each time you read the same old story.
Get your grandchildren involved in reading. Don’t read through an entire book without a break. Instead, stop reading from time to time so you can ask your grandchild questions about the story. The American Library Association says your grandchild will enjoy telling you why he thinks something just happened in a story, or what she thinks will happen next.
The best thing about picture books is the pictures! Don’t ignore those beautiful drawings, says the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council. Instead, talk to your grandchild about each picture. Then ask your grandchild to point to the pictures while you read the words. Your grandchild will soon be able to retell the story while you point to the pictures.
Nurturing a reader
Reading books to your grandchildren is the best way to nurture young readers. But there are lots of other things you can do to get kids reading:
- Turn off the television so there’s more time for reading. Then set aside a regular time each day for reading. This could be 20 minutes before bedtime, or right after dinner.
- Have plenty of reading material around the house, and not just books. Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a national literacy group, says kids should also read magazines, newspapers, comic books, cookbooks, food labels, catalogues, and even DVD labels.
- Take a book with you whenever you leave the house, advises the Family Reading Partnership. That way, you can read to your grandchild while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, in the grocery store, or at a restaurant. Bring books-on-tape along in the car to keep a child entertained.
Be a role model
Don’t miss the opportunity to share yourself-and your love of reading-with your grandchildren. Be a role model for young readers. If you live nearby, let your grandchildren see you reading. Talk to them about the interesting things you’ve read. If you live far away, try reading a favorite book into a tape recorder. Send the tape to your grandchildren and then talk about the story over the phone. Your grandchildren will love you for it! And, they’ll always remember that you loved them enough to give them a precious gift-the gift of reading.
- Tune in and Watch a Good Book
Mort Schindel has spent his life on a creative mission to inspire young readers.
- Books and Movies
Visit this AARP Web channel for all your book news.
- Books for Kids and Grandkids
AARP The Magazine offers a list of the best new books for the little people in your life.
- Reading is Fundamental
Visit this Web site to find a host of tips and activities for helping a child learn to love reading.
- Exploring Books with Grandchildren
The Oregon State University Extension Service gives tips on reading to grandchildren.
- Family Reading Partnership: Great Ideas
Try these ideas for helping children connect with books.
- Association of Library Services to Children
This division of the American Library Association provides several lists of good books for children.
- Young Adult Choices for 2007
Each year, the International Reading Association publishes a reading list of Young Adults’ Choices. The list was created with help from teenagers in grades 7-10.
- The Children’s Book Council
Check out book lists for infants, young readers, Spanish speakers, and kids who like international books, science books, and comic books. There’s also a list of children’s books that adults will like!
- How to Get Your Child to Love Reading: For Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike
Esme Raji Codell, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, August 2003
- Choosing Books for Children: A Common Sense Guide
Betsy Gould Hearne, Dell Publishing Co., Inc., August 2000
- The Read Aloud Handbook
Jim Trelease, Penguin, July 2001