Start from the Beginning
We enjoy reading to our kids from the time that they are babies. Even at the age of 6 months, a baby can benefit from hearing the inflection in your voice and seeing the bright photos on the pages of board books. This is also an important way to grow your bond with your baby. As they grow, we’ve used books to help teach colors, shapes, and animals. Books have helped us teach our kids to recognize their numbers and letters, and even to use the potty!
We have a new book (pictured below) that helps your child learn how to process their feelings, In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek. All kids need help identifying different emotions and learning how to process and express them well. This is a great resource to help! She also has a book about courage, creativity, and joy as well.
Reading Resources on the Web
There are so many reading resources you can find on the web, so I’ll just share a few that friends have shared with me that are HUGELY helpful when looking for good, age-appropriate books for your kids.
1. Amazon Prime: If you do not have an Amazon Prime membership, I highly recommend it (and you can try it for free for 30 days). With a Prime membership, you get free two-day shipping on items such as books (along with access to movies and shows and now music), which is a huge advantage for busy moms like myself. Their book department has an amazing children’s section where you can browse online by age, type, subject matter, release date, etc. You can also check out the reviews for each title as well. As a side note, I purchase all of my diapers and wipes through the Amazon Family program which includes a 20% discount, it is a lifesaver for me and I never have to run out of the essentials.
2. Common Sense Media is a nonprofit organization that helps provide an age rating for books, movies, TV Shows, websites, music and game apps. It includes a description, a parent rating, and will inform you on questionable language and themes used. You’ll be surprised as you begin researching titles at what some things targeting children contain. I use this website to help me discern whether something is age appropriate, or ever appropriate for my kids.
3. Good Reads is a website but also has a free APP as well. You can search for recommendations, you can see what friends are reading by adding your contacts or Facebook friends list, and you can organize your own list. As you search for a favorite book, you will see reviews for that book and you can also see recommendations for similar books that readers enjoyed.
Create a Reading Nook
Create a relaxing, inviting space for your kids to read and store your books in a space that they can easily access their books. For us, we are in a tight space in our home with kids sharing rooms, so I have a tent that we can pop out for reading time, or I encourage them to lay on their beds to get in some quiet reading time. Our big kids have shelves in their closets dedicated for age-appropriate books, my daughter has a bookcase for her books, and my two-year-old has a cubicle shelf to store the board books that have been passed down to him.
Once our big kids entered elementary school, they’ve had assignments to read daily so that’s been helpful to make us make time for reading during the busy week. But I’m excited that even over the summer my kids have continued reading just as often. Part of our nightly routine includes reading time as a family. As a combined gift for doing well in school and school out for summer, we gave them the “Magic Treehouse” box set (Books 1-4, Books 5-8, Books 9-12, Books 13-16, Box Set 1-28). We’ve been reading several chapters a night and the adventures in this series captivate my seven-year-old and my two-year-old. The kids all gather around and I love that reading together becomes a bonding activity.
Our local library, the Central Arkansas Library System, has a calendar full of fun activities throughout the year for children (and adults) of all ages. There offer story time for various ages throughout the week, free classes, and guest speakers. Our kids love visiting weekly and getting to check out a book. We have two favorite libraries that target children and have play centers, puzzles, games, and a playhouse. Check out your local public library to see what their calendar shows for fun summer activities!
Our local Barnes & Noble store has a wonderful children’s area. You can sit and read with your child, and there are toys and a train table to keep everyone occupied while you are browsing (which is a great thing for big families like mine!). They offer story time twice a week, once during the week and once on the weekend. They also have fun activities throughout the year like the upcoming Marvel Superhero event they have including costume contests, trivia, etc. Be sure to check your local bookstore to see what they offer.