Parents may get a little bored of reading aloud (gasp!) once in a while since when we're on our game, we are doing it every night. So while it's good to shake it up a bit, we don't want to throw bedtime stories completely out the window when we can't take another read aloud on the edge of the bed. What can parents do then to keep them interesting? The following are ideas to ensure you keep the routine in your evenings while also keeping it fun (for everyone!).
1. Find a different spot. Is your usual seat on the couch in the den, or at the edge of your child’s bed after tucking him in? While routines are great to establish because they set up lifetime habits, sometimes it can be fun to do something unusual. Tonight, try reading to your child while she’s sudsing in a warm bath. This gets two tasks done at once and the warm water helps induce a sleepy effect. Or why not pitch a tent in the backyard, or a blanket-tent in the living room to read in with flashilghts? Be creative, and help your child see that reading can be playful.
2. Pick a theme and stick with it. If you’re randomly trying every book in the library, narrow down the options by choosing one topic and going with it for a while. This month, ask your librarian to pull some themed illustrated books off the shelf and put them aside for you to pick up. Then each night before bedtime, read from the stack until you reach the bottom. When you read books focused on one topic that is connected to something relevant (pumpkins, elves, rain or summer fun!) it makes the reading more appealing.
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3. Pre-judge the book. You know the saying, never judge a book by its cover? Well, that old saying is just that, old. You can and should make pre-judgements about a book based on the cover and the title (and then go ahead and read it together to see if you were right). Take a guess if the story will be funny, happy, sad or silly. Predict with your child what will happen based on the cover. Use this sentence starter, “I think ____________ will happen because ___________” Then as you read, decide if one or both of you are right or if somewhere along the way you need to change your prediction.
4. Try a graphic novel. Yes, they are like comic books and YES, they make for awesome reading! Graphic novels are super popular today and even reluctant readers love them. It feels like you’re not even reading a book (but you are) and the stories can be entertaining. Not sure where to start? Disney has a line of graphic novels that you might like to try, with popular titles such as Figment and Space Mountain.
5. Up-level your book choices. So Harry Potter might be too hard for your child to read on his own yet, but it could be the perfect story for you to read to him. Try choosing some high interest chapter books that your child will love but can’t access by himself and read aloud a chapter a night. If the chapters are long, even a half a chapter will do – you can stop at a cliffhanger somewhere in the middle. Your child will get to hear some of the great books that older kids are reading (every young’un loves that!) and can also pick-up some key vocabulary along the way. Don’t worry about the lack of pictures either. A riveting story is told in words. Suggest your child closes her eyes and imagines the pictures instead. She’ll get to make the characters her own and she might actually fall asleep a little faster too!
Bedtime stories are critical for your child’s reading growth so don’t let boredom have you opting out. Keep mixing it up to avoid excuses getting in the way of some quality read aloud time. Even just 10 minutes a night can have amazing benefits, and may even help everyone doze off a little easier.
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