It's Time to Rethink Story Time:
Follow These Tips to Raise Eager Readers

Books_Web.jpgReading aloud to children is one of the single most important things a parent can do to ensure their child's academic success.

And literacy needs to be mastered early, because reading competency in 3rd grade is one of the greatest predictors of whether a child will graduate from high school.

Yet to gain the greatest benefit from story time, there's more to it than most parents may think.

Regardless of age, parents should read out loud to children every day. Lena Pope's child development experts encourages moms, dads and caregivers to understand the steps they can take to make the most of that story time.

Follow these tips for reading to children:

Choose The Right Books: Sometimes parents feel pressured to stop reading picture books in an effort to expose older children to more advanced literature in the form of chapter books. But picture books should be shared with kids regardless of age because they have many layers of meaning that the reader or listener can experience on multiple levels. They also offer rich, lyrical language that helps nurture a life-long passion for stories.

Make Some Noise and Get Moving: As you read each page, take turns with your child to make sounds that match the illustrations. That may mean growling like a lion, talking loud like a giant or whistling like a train. Mime the movement of characters in the book, too. Hopping, leaping, skating and skidding are all fair game.

Play “I Say/You Say”: Invite your child to finish a repetitive phrase that appears frequently in the book. For example, for the classic picture book “Goodnight Moon,” every time mom or dad says “goodnight,” the child follows with “moon.”

Use the Book as a Discussion Starter: Use books to engage in conversation with your child. If a book explores the topic of happiness, that’s an opportunity to ask kids what makes them happy. Then share the things that bring you joy.

Incorporate Props: Scour the house for items to help make the story interactive. From stuffed animals and finger puppets, to toy cars and trains, props can be incorporated to demonstrate the storyline.

Choose Something Old, Something New: Some experts suggest reading three books each day. Choose one book that’s a favorite, one that’s familiar, and one that’s new. LENA POPE suggests parents looking for a fresh read to go under the tree this holiday season should check out a newly-released picture book called Happy Mamas. This lyrical ode to motherhood explores all the ways moms in the animal kingdom enjoy spending time with their babies throughout the course of a day. The book is published by CWLA Press, and a portion of the proceeds from each sale benefit vulnerable kids.

Pick the Right Time: In order to incorporate beneficial activities into the regular reading experience, don’t wait till bedtime. That’s usually when parents feel pressured to get children asleep so they are well rested for the next day. Curling up with a book earlier in the day allows parents to make the most of story time.

And remember, these suggestions are simply that – suggestions on how to enhance reading time with children. The most important thing is to simply get in the habit of regularly sharing books.