We love getting feedback and questions from you, our readers. One of the hottest topics in our inbox and on our social media channels is about bedtime reading routines. Not surprising, as it’s one of those staples from childhood that has stood the test of time, from generation to generation. I imagine (perhaps naively) families gathered around candlelight reading aloud together from treasured books centuries ago, and I know many parents still make reading together at night before bed a daily priority, even in the era of screens.
My 9-year-old son recently asked me, “what’s the name of the genre of books that are about people who have had difficult lives?” He had just finished the book “Wish,” by Barbara O’Connor and was doing some self-reflection as far as what to read next. The writer nerd in me loved that he was making the connection between books like “Wish,” “Wonder,” etc., with some of the interesting biographies he’s read (like the Who Was series and the True Tales of Childhood series). The next book I’m going to suggest he read? “Fish in a Tree” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. I don’t think there is a named genre as my son described it, but this book certainly fits his interest in this type of main character.
There are countless parenting pitfalls that I’ve fallen into. One is stuffing my children’s stockings with plastic junk, courtesy of last-minute, panic-stricken trips to Target and the Dollar Store on December 23. As my children have gotten older, we’ve tried to teach them to place less value on stuff, and more value on new experiences, quality time together, and doing those things you most enjoy. It became very apparent that my stocking stuffers didn’t pass my own sniff test.
UPDATE: GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED.
It’s been about six months since we launched Raising Real Readers, although it was a dream of ours for years before we ever hit “publish” on that first post. Since June, you have filled our comments, social media channels, and even email inboxes with questions, concerns, fears, and excitement about your child’s reading habits. We are enormously grateful that you have allowed us into your home to be a small part of your family’s reading routine.
I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween. Love the decorations, the thrill of deciding on and putting together costumes, the chatting with neighbors as we trick or treat. Hate the extreme sugar rush my kids come home from school with, come home from trick or treating with, and the fights over how much candy they can have each and every day after.
One way to alleviate a bit of the candy coma is by treating your children with books, and encouraging family (like those spoil-them-rotten grandparents!) to do the same. We typically get our kids a Halloween book each fall, or we’ll check out a stack from the library. Over the years, we’ve built a nice collection without ever spending more than $10-15 each October. It’s fun to read one or two each night in the week leading up, and sometimes for days after if we’re still in the spirit.
Books are a way to extend enjoyment of this holiday in a way that doesn’t give kids cavities.
Every summer my kids tend to get hooked on a particular TV show during their allotted screen time. Last summer, it was Phineas and Ferb and they spent all their free time pretending to go on crazy adventures like those boys do. This summer, they fell in love with Netflix’s Who Was show, based on the best-selling Who Was series of books.
My oldest son had read a few of the books, as both his school library and our public library have shelves full of them. I love that there are such a wide variety, to capture whatever interests your children might already have (sports, art, pop culture, science, etc.). Most are biographies, but some are about historical events or famous places. The cover art is definitely the hook here: the goofy illustrations look like bobble heads, making these otherwise serious historical figures relatable and fun.
Thoughts on the Who Was TV Show
When my oldest child was a toddler, I only needed to bring a tote bag of his favorite books to keep him happy and entertained for an hour or more. We nicknamed him The Professor. But then my youngest came along. Cue the Jaws music. His first nickname was The Destroyer… you know the type.
I suddenly had to rethink my strategies for making books a part of his very active, mobile (and developmentally normal!) life.
Toddler and preschool years are crucial in a child’s development as a reader. Even though they can’t yet read independently, they’re learning all the behaviors necessary to do so in the future.
As a point of comparison, clutching a crayon in their chubby, clenched fists and scribbling away is the first step toward being able to write. Soon their fingers get stronger, they start to grasp a pencil and exhibit more control as they draw. It works the same way with reading.
But how to balance your child’s need to move with your desire to read to them in an enjoyable way? We’ve got some tips and book ideas to help.
When my first born was ready for baby food, I had a mini meltdown. I felt like I had (finally!) figured out feeding him and now my pediatrician was telling me it was already time for solids. The doctor had one simple answer, “Just keep trying.” He said that if my son didn’t show interest in a certain food that I should continue placing it on his tray. Eventually, his tastes may change or he might grow used to the textures and flavors that come with experiencing new foods.
This works for developing a real love of reading in your children, too. But you know what usually doesn’t work? Shoving it down their throats. Forcing children to eat copious amounts of broccoli when they hate it will make them less likely to enjoy broccoli when they grow up, right?
Making your child read only books you select, during the time of day you select, with a timer set will also make them less likely to fall in love with reading.
Our most recent posts have encouraged families to allow their child to choose their own reading material and to reflect thoughtfully on how books impact childrens’ (and adults’) lives. But where to turn when you’ve read the last page of a recent favorite, or finally finished that series you started 6 months ago? (I call this having a book hangover and the only cure is a new favorite!) Or maybe you’re still searching for that one book that is sure to hook them to love reading long-term.
Here are some fool-proof resources for great children’s book recommendations… some for when you have loads of time to browse with your child and a few that take only a few seconds!
Helpful Sources for Children’s Book Recommendations
On the last day of our summer vacation, I told my kids they could each pick out a souvenir from the national park gift shop. They chose the $7 grab bag of fake gemstones. Literally something we could buy at our local dollar store, and had no significance to the place we’d been. I was sure the stones would end up at the bottom of our toy bin. I cringed while I made the purchase and handed over the tiny drawstring bags to their eager hands. Read More