Setting up a reading routine can help encourage independent reading and a love of reading that may last a lifetime. Children in particular respond well to routines, and will sometimes do things that are part of a routine that they might not do on their own.
So how do you implement a reading routine? What does it look like? Here are some simple steps to set up a reading routine in your home:
1. Choose a Time
You don’t have to have just one time that you read each day, you may choose to have several. Here are some ideas to choose from.
* Bedtime is a traditional time for reading, and for good reason. Bedtime is generally quiet, for one thing; televisions are off, the room is dimly lit, and there’s nothing else your child needs to do. There are fewer distractions at bedtime. Also, reading at bedtime helps make bedtime more attractive. Kids who didn’t used to like bedtime may be much happier to head to bed when they know a book (or the next chapter of a book) is part of the bedtime ritual.
* After lunch is a good time for toddlers and preschoolers who take naps. Reading helps them relax, and even when they get too old for naps, you can keep up the routine as simply reading time. Afternoons are a good time for quiet time for adults and kids alike.
* After breakfast is similar to after lunch. Having just had a meal, settling down and focusing tends to be easier for little ones.
2. Choose a Place
This is entirely individual, of course; reading at a table may work best for you, or maybe lying on the couch or floor is more your style. Here are some more suggestions.
* A cozy corner or, if you have the space, a certain room that’s set up for reading is ideal. For bedtime reading, you can usually just use your child’s bed; but for daytime reading, it’s nice to have a cozy place to settle down.
* Use child-friendly furniture in this corner or room, such as a beanbag chair, pillows on the floor, or soft chairs. Make sure there’s a reading lamp or two. You might even have a snack basket and bottles of water there as well. The point is to make it inviting, and a place where you and your child like to be.
* Books should be easily accessible from the reading corner, such as in baskets or racks on the floor.
3. Choose a Book
Many parents like to let their child choose which book to read. That’s fine; it can be yet another way your child can participate in the reading routine. Here are some other ideas.
* Take your child to the library and get new books frequently.
* You could alternate – one reading session, your child gets to choose; the next reading session, you choose.
4. Involve the Family
See if older siblings can read to younger ones. This includes more kids in the routine and makes it more of a family thing. Mom and Dad should be right there, too, reading with the kids – either reading to them, or reading with them.
There’s nothing wrong with having a family reading time where everyone in the family reads his or her choice of book independently.