Chapter 11: It’s a Date!

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Busy, busy, busy!

Finding time for reading with your child can be tricky. You know it’s important, but you may be asking yourself, “How can I fit it in?” If your family is like most families, your days are probably pretty jam-packed. After all, there are so many demands on your time. Between your job, bills, appointments, pets and that mountain of laundry that keeps piling up, it can sometimes seem as if every hour in the day has already been claimed.

Make room for reading

So how can you add reading practice with your child to your already overloaded to-do list? Check out the tips below. They offer some crafty solutions for sneaking in a little time for reading.

  1. Cut something out – At first glance, your schedule may simply seem too full to fit in anything else. But what if you cut something out to make room for reading? Most of the things on your schedule are probably nonnegotiable, but take a careful look at the rest. Could you cut down on family TV time, for instance, or declare the last hour before bedtime a “no screen” zone? Giving up a little time with laptops and smartphones will open up some time for reading.
  2. Use the little moments – Over time, a few minutes here and there will add up to a lot of reading practice. Keep a book or magazine for each of your kids in your purse, briefcase or car. Then, when you’re waiting at the bus stop or at the dentist’s office or even in a long line at the grocery store, you can pull them out. You can even keep books in the bathroom. While one child is brushing her teeth, the other can read a story out loud.
  3. Make it a family affair – Involve everyone in reading practice whenever you can. Is your child spending the weekend with Grandma? Be sure to pack a few of her favorite books in her overnight bag. Give Grandma the heads up, too, so she will know to add reading to the schedule. If you have older kids, enlist them in the reading project, as well. Younger kids often idolize their older siblings. If big brother is interested in a book, you can be sure that little sister will want to read it, too.
  4. Multitask – Don’t think that reading time has to tie your hands. Kids love to feel like they’re being helpful. Ask your child to read to you while you are paying your bills, for example, or cleaning up the kitchen or sorting laundry. Not only will you get a few of those pesky chores off your list, your little one will feel like she’s pitching in by providing you with some entertainment while you work. And if she gets stuck on an especially tricky word, you’ll be right there to help her along.
  5. Read a bedtime story – According to the Kids & Family Reading Report published by Scholastic Books, kids – even as old as 10 or 11 – learn to love reading by having others read to them. Since most parents spend a little time with their kids at bedtime anyway, bedtime can be a good time to share a story. Just change up your nighttime routine a little bit. Maybe you rub your child’s back, ask her about her day, or just tuck her in and say, “Good night!” Use that time for a story, instead. For very young children, it can be a short picture book. For older kids, chapter books work just as well. Even if you only read a page or two each night, you can use a marker to mark your place, so the next night, you can quickly pick up right where you stopped. You can also use this time to ask your child what has happened in the story so far. This is a good way to help your child practice understanding what she has heard in a story. This is called comprehension.

Other ideas?

Now, do a little brainstorming of your own. Can you think of other ways to sneak in some reading time? Jot them down! And don’t forget to ask your child for some commando reading suggestions. Kids love to be part of their own educational process, and you might just be surprised at how creative they can be!

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Scholastic Books, Kids and Family Reading Report, “Key Findings,”