Finding time to read is an important part of developing literacy skills for all kids. And there are many easy and convenient ways to make reading a part of each day — even when it's tough to find time to sit down with a book.
Finding the Reading Moments
Car trips, errands, and waits in checkout lines and the doctor's office are all opportunities for reading. Keep books or magazines in your car, diaper bag, or backpack to pull out whenever you're going to be in one place for a while. Even if you can't finish a book, read a few pages or discuss some of the pictures.
Encourage older kids to bring favorite books and magazines along wherever you go. While it's tempting to provide electronic games and readers, be sure to alternate electronic media with plenty of opportunities to read traditional print books.
Other reading moments to take advantage of throughout the day:
in the morning, before breakfast or getting dressed
after dinner, when kids are relaxed
bath time (with plastic, waterproof books)
Reading opportunities are everywhere you go. While riding in the car, for example, encourage kids to spot words and letters (on billboards, store signs, etc.), turning it into a game ("Who'll be the first to find a letter B?"). While shopping, ask your preschooler to "read" pictures on boxes and tell you about them. Point out the difference between the words and the pictures on the boxes. Encourage older kids to tell you what's on the shopping list.
Even daily tasks like cooking can provide reading moments. You can read recipes aloud to younger kids, and older kids can assist you as you cook by telling you how much flour to measure. Give your child a catalog to read while you sort through the mail. Ask relatives to send your child letters, e-mail, or text messages, and read them together. Help your child create letters or messages to send back to the relatives. These types of activities help kids see the purpose of reading and of print.
Even when you're trying to get things done, you can encourage reading. While cleaning, for instance, you might ask your child to read a favorite book to you while you work. Younger kids can talk to you about the pictures in their favorite books.
Make sure kids get some time to spend quietly with books, even if it means cutting back on other activities, like watching TV or playing video games.
Most important, be a reader yourself. Kids who see their parents reading are likely to imitate them and become readers, too!