Posts Tagged ‘bedtime stories’

Time to Reestablish the Bedtime Reading Ritual

Posted on September 1st, 2014 by Jody


Back to School Means Its Time to Reestablish the Bedtime Reading RitualMost teachers and parents are glued to the news and various forms of social media, hoping to hear the news that public schools will be back in session on Tuesday, or at the very least, next week. It’s been a longer summer than we’re used to and it started under less than ideal conditions. I don’t know one teacher who isn’t sad about the quick way we had to say goodbye to our classes in June. But alas, all this stuff makes us stronger, right? We’ll see.

In a typical summer, your child’s reading level will probably lower. This summer, because of it’s length, this is even more likely. It happens: later bedtimes, fun activities, and vacations change the routine that many of us have established through the school year. When we get back to school, we spend those first weeks reestablishing routines, both at school and at home. I can’t honestly put into words how very much I want (NEED) school to go back next week, but while we’re waiting, we can slowly start pushing ourselves and our children back into those old habits.

Getting to bed earlier, what used to be “on time”, is important. I’m not very good at this one, myself. I figure that the first week of having to get up at six thirty will curb my tendency to stay up until one a.m. For our kids though, it’s nice to ease them into it. This last week or so, we’ve been getting home earlier if we’re out, sending the kids to get ready closer to their usual time. The main reason for this is to reestablish the bedtime reading ritual.

Throughout the school year, this is one we try to hold onto tightly. The fifteen to thirty minutes with each of the girls at the end of the night is just as important to my husband and I as it is to them. Somehow, being told that it’s time to go up and read causes less confrontation that it’s time to go up to bed. One of the best things you can do for your child, regardless of whether school goes back, is get this routine going again. Get them excited about books, about reading. Maybe pick out a special book at the library or bookstore to get you back into things.

Students reading every night plays a huge role in their fluency and comprehension. Whether you’re reading to them or they are reading to you, this is a time that can result in great conversations with your kids. Why would the main character do that? Would YOU do that? What might you have done? My youngest likes to read to us but my oldest likes to be read to. Children (okay, people) are never too old to be read to. Just because your child is going into an upper grade, doesn’t mean that quality reading time has to stop. In fact, it might even be more important.

When they’re little, children are your shadow. But when they get older, they start to turn into themselves more, or to friends. That reading time at the end of the day is your chance to connect. We know how busy the days are, with school, work, activities, more activities. Building that constant into your schedule, keeping it that way, will allow for a time when your child can open up to you, if they want. They’ll know that at the end of every day, you’re checking in with them. Maybe they don’t want to open up about what boy they like or the mean girl at school, but they’ll know that you’ll be there and they can listen to your voice or that you’ll listen to them. There’s comfort in that. Our children take comfort in routine and whether school is back or not, it’s time for us to get back to it. Good luck with the first day, whenever it is.

6,205 bedtime stories! A look at selecting great bedtime stories and the importance of reading aloud to children.

Posted on October 25th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Selecting great bedtime stories

When making presentations to parent groups and professional organizations, my goal is always the same: to inspire adults to read good books to children on a frequent basis.

I have two children and I began reading aloud to them when my oldest boy was 6 months. I continued reading two stories a day until the youngest was about 7 years old. (We still enjoy chapter books together.)

Believe it or not, I actually did the calculation:
8.5 years X 2 stories per day X 365 days = 6,205 bedtime stories! Unbelievable!

Selecting Great Bedtime Stories

We know as parents that we are going to read some books over and over again because our children will insist we do. The rest of the time, let’s do our best to find books that are worth reading.

Whether through this website or a Parent Ed session at your preschool, I want to help you discover some new books that will help your child…
• substantially grow his vocabulary. Remember, we tend to use the same words over and over again when we talk with our children. When we read aloud to them, they encounter new vocabulary. Here are some suggestions for picture books with rich language
• gain and awareness of rhyming and alliteration. Also known as ‘Phonemic Awareness,’ discovering that words are made up of sounds will help your child read and spell. Here are some suggestions for you to support your child’s phonemic awareness.
• learn about places and situations. Whether reading about Madeline’s life in Paris or Ping’s home in China, books take us to new and exciting places. They introduce situations that our children do not encounter personnally.
• explore the language and conventions of print. Children learn that English is read from left to right and from top to bottom. They may also learn that exclamation marks and bold print send a message to the reader.
• discover new information and ideas. Books are a great way for your child to learn about topics that interest them: dinosaurs, castles, robots and undersea creatures! Here are some non fiction picture books that we particularly recommend.
• become a good listener. Ah yes, you can be sure that your child’s teacher will be grateful for his attentiveness.

When selecting books for children we should look for
• respected authors and illustrators and their well-reviewed books
• good matches for our child’s interests (in my case it was, ‘Books about trucks!’)
• ways to connect books with life experiences (i.e. an upcoming trip or planting a garden)

Keep reading, I will do my very best to help you with selecting great bedtime stories.

You may also enjoy…
Answers to 10 FAQ About Reading Aloud to Children from Storytime StandoutsStorytime Standouts guest contributor writes about reading aloud to children10 Great Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Child

The Importance of Reading Aloud to Children

Posted on September 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


The importance of reading aloud to children - even once they read independentlyIt is almost impossible to believe that the 2011/12 school year marks the tenth anniversary of Storytime Standouts. Indeed, I have been writing about the importance of reading aloud while introducing wonderful picture books for families for nearly a decade. My first column was dated April 2002 and included a review of Stella, Fairy of the Forest. I love letting parents and teachers know about wonderful children’s books just as much today as I did ten years ago. As well, I remain committed to sharing the importance of reading aloud to children whenever I have an opportunity to do so.

Given that this is a special anniversary for Storytime Standouts and since it is the start of a new school year, I want to share my suggestions for ensuring that young children mature into young adults who love to read…

Start ‘em young -
Beginning at six months of age, every child should hear at least two picture books read aloud every day. If we begin when a child is still an infant, the baby gets used to the idea of snuggling close and enjoying a story. If we introduce stories when children are older and ‘on the move,’ it may be more difficult to entice them to cuddle with us, enjoy the story and the illustrations.

Every day, no matter what -
Making time for stories, whether at bedtime or during the day, should be sacred. Even on busy days, when we are on holiday or when a babysitter is involved, enjoying two picture books every day is essential for youngsters. It is for this reason that bedtime stories should never be withdrawn as a form of discipline.

Help your child learn words, concepts and lessons -
When children hear two stories a day, they will enjoy 730 stories in one year and 3650 stories in five years. Hearing more than three thousand stories in five years will introduce all sorts of delicious vocabulary, fascinating concepts, wonderful artwork and important lessons. If we delay reading aloud to our children, perhaps waiting until they are two years of age, we miss the opportunity to expose them to the vocabulary, concepts, artwork and lessons in more than one thousand picture books. If each story introduces just two new words… that means your child will have missed the opportunity to add more than two thousand words to her vocabulary.The Importance of Reading Aloud to Children - Keep Reading Even Once Children Are Able to Read Independently

There is something for everyone -
Exploring the vast array of children’s books will be fun and rewarding for both you and your child. Visit your local library or book store and dive into the wealth of fairy tales, fables, tall tales, concept books, alphabet books, nursery rhymes, poetry, humor, lift the flap, wordless, fiction and nonfiction picture books. There is truly a picture book for every occasion.

Make connections -
Encourage children to make connections with the books they hear read aloud. Whether starting school or visiting a pumpkin patch, dealing with a sibling or learning to ride a bike, there are picture books to match a young child’s experiences. Parents can enrich the read aloud experience by pausing to ask questions, “What do you think Little Red Riding Hood should do?” “Which version of The Three Bears did you like best?” “Which story book character do you like best? Lilly, Wemberly, Olivia…”

Continue reading aloud -
Even once children have become independent readers, they will benefit from sharing a great book with you. Although it may be tempting to step aside when your child is eight years old and is reading chapter books independently, there are all sorts of wonderful novels for you to enjoy together. You and your children will remember and reference these shared books for years to come.

For additional information, read our 10 FAQs About Reading Aloud to Children and Why Sharing a Bedtime Story or Two is Not to Be Missed.

10 FAQs About Reading Aloud to Children

Posted on February 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Here are our answers to 10 frequently asked questions about reading aloud to children

10 FAQ About Reading aloud to young children -

Simply put, reading aloud to your children will positively effect them for the rest of their lives.

Reading aloud and sharing wonderful stories will make them laugh (and cry), expand their vocabulary, broaden their view of the world, teach them lessons, prepare them for formal reading instruction and create long lasting memories.

Here are my answers to ten frequently asked questions about reading aloud to children…

Goodnight Moon is a great readaloud for babies and toddlers
When should I start reading to my baby?
Some people would say, “Start while the baby is still in the womb.” For me personally, I think six months is a good age. Ideally, starting to read to your child should happen before the baby is really mobile. Snuggle up and enjoy a couple of board books every day.

Harry Potter is a terrific readaloud for eight year oldsWhen can I stop reading to my child(ren)?
My personal opinion is that you should continue reading aloud daily to your children (at least) until they are teens. We know that as children get older, the words, paragraphs and chapters become longer, there are fewer illustrations and the content is often more complex. If you continue to read to your child – even after he becomes an independent reader – you and he can enjoy books that are too challenging for him to read independently. This provides great motivation for him to continue reading

Who should read aloud to our children?
Everyone! I would love to have parents, grandparents, babysitters, aunts and uncles read aloud to children. Each adult can bring something special to the read aloud and/or storytelling experience. For boys, it is very valuable to have a male role model for reading. I know of one family where Dad reads the stories while Mom sits nearby and enjoys her own book. This is great for the children to observe.

What if my child won’t sit still for a story?
Hearing the story is more important that sitting still for the story. Allow your child to bathe or colour or bounce a ball while you read aloud.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is good fun for Preschool Age Children

My child wants to hear the same story over and over again… I’m bored. What should I do?
Read your child’s favorite story and then offer an incentive to listen to something different… “We can turn the light out now and you can go to sleep OR you can stay up late tonight and hear this new story!” My prediction is 9/10 children will want to stay up late to hear a new story.

I have two children, aged six and three. Can I read the same stories to them or do they each need their own stories?
Ideally I would try to read stories to each BUT that may only be possible occasionally. Just do your best.

What if a book includes a word or idea that I object to?
Rather than avoid the book altogether, use this as an opportunity to explain your objection to your child. Books can be great springboards for frank discussions about behavior, language and more.

Puzzle books like Spot Seven help children learn to notice small details
My child likes those puzzle books but I find them really boring. What’s the point of those books?
I Spy, Spot Seven, Can You See What I See? - type books help your child to notice small details and will also introduce new vocabulary. Enjoy in moderation.

Some of these fairy tales can be awfully scary… Is it okay to read them to my child?
You’re right, witches and potions and monsters can be scary. Be guided by your child. If your child wants to hear you read a scary story, trying it while sitting comfortably with you enables them to enjoy a shiver of excitement in a safe setting, One of my fondest camping memories involves a campfire, a book of ghost stories and a flashlight!

Wordless picture books like Breakfast for Jack are great for multilingual families
English is not my first language. I am uncomfortable reading English to my children. What should I do?
Books on tape or CD could help you and your child enjoy books together. Look for these at your local library. While you are at the library, find out about storytimes, many libraries offer several opportunities for children to hear stories read aloud. Wordless and almost wordless picture books may also be a good choice for you and your child. Finally, you will spend many years encouraging your child to try new things – I would encourage you to try reading at least one book to your child every day even though you may make mistakes.

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

For book recommendations, check out our picture book and chapter book suggestions.

If you have a specific question about reading aloud to children, leave a comment. We promise to reply with our best ideas to help you read aloud to your child.

Solving Problems With Reading Aloud to Young Children

Posted on December 13th, 2010 by Carolyn Hart


Almost every time I present Ready for Reading at least one very brave individual will explain that his or her child does not “cooperate” when it’s time for a story. Here are some common challenges that parents face when reading aloud to young children:

My child only wants to hear stories about Thomas or Olivia or My child wants to hear the same story every night

If your child is very reluctant to listen to new or unfamiliar stories, I would suggest the following…Arm yourself with some great picture books from the library. Read your child’s favourite bedtime story and then say, “I know we usually turn the light out now but, since you are getting older (or since it is Friday night), I thought you might like to stay up a bit later and hear this story. If you don’t want to listen to it, we can turn the light out and you can go to sleep now.”

Is there any child, anywhere who would rather go to bed early than enjoy an extra story? Of course, I realize this means an extra story for mom or dad to read but with any luck you will expand your child’s horizons to include some new characters (and relieve your boredom).

Another strategy may be to introduce some other stories about trains (or pigs) but, personally I favour the “stay up later” approach.

I have two children. They are aged two and five. Can I read the same stories to them or do I have to read different books to each? or My oldest child loves to listen to the books I read aloud but my younger child won’t pay attention. What should I do?

I hate to say this because I know how exhausting child-rearing is BUT, ideally you should read different books to each child. The five year old is ready for more text (longer) books and more sophisticated illustrations. He or she might even be ready to hear a chapter book read aloud. The younger child probably has a shorter attention span and different interests. At least some of the time, I would try to read books specially selected for each.

What do you think about audio books or books with accompanying CD or tape?

I think they’re great BUT keep in mind that the best ‘read aloud’ experiences include some discussion about the book: which character do you like best? what do you think will happen next? does this remind you of another book? Audio books don’t promote discussion or reading between the lines.

We are a multilingual household. My English is not great. Which language should I use when reading to my child?

I think it is fantastic that your child is able to speak more than one language. If your child is going to learn to read English, your child should hear English read aloud on a regular basis – even if you make mistakes occasionally and your accent is not perfect.

My child won’t sit still for a story

Hearing the story is more important that sitting still for a story. If your child won’t sit still, allow him or her to play quietly nearby. Your child could do a drawing, build something or even bounce a ball while you read. The read aloud experience is so important, be create in finding ways to share books with your child and don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t want to sit still for a book.

What do you think about ‘rude’ books?

There are some very popular books that don’t appeal to me because of the author’s choice of words. Walter the Farting Dog is a perfect example of an immensely popular book that just never made it onto my bookshelf. I don’t use the word, ‘fart’ so I never felt inclined to choose to read the book aloud to my kids. Would I have read it to them if they had asked? Yes BUT I would also have talked about the language and why it is not part of my vocabulary (and I don’t want to hear it in my home). Having said all that, we have several Captain Underpants books in the house. In my opinion, that series encouraged many young boys to move into chapter books and I am grateful it did. I just never read it out loud.

For further information about reading aloud to young children, check out our 10 FAQs About Reading Aloud to Children.

If you have questions or suggestions, please comment on this post or send me an email. Best of luck!

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