Looking for a New Year’s goal that is fun for your kids, will greatly benefit their learning, and will earn you positive parenting points? Read to your kids more. Sounds simple, right? And many of us are already reading aloud regularly to our kids, so keep up the good work, because reading aloud to children is one of the best ways to help them academically and socially. It will help them become better readers, build their speech and language skills, expand their vocabulary, strengthen their listening skills, help them with grammar and correct sentence structure, build their attention spans, develop their imaginations and curiosity, teach them positive behaviors for dealing with various life situations, and give them positive attention that they crave. And it’s a fun way to bond with your children.
Reading aloud to your child is the best way to prepare him or her for Kindergarten. Research shows that kids should be read at least 1000 books from birth to age 5. The earlier you start reading aloud to your child, the better it is for their development (since language development actually starts in utero). One thousand books sounds like a lot, but if you do the math, from birth to age 5, there are 1825 days (365 days x 5 years). And most kids don’t start Kindergarten the day they turn 5 so really it’s close to 2000 days from when a child is born to when he or she enters school. That’s one book every other day. And if your kids are anything like mine, they usually don’t let you stop after one book once you begin reading. Even if you don’t start reading aloud to your child at birth, if you read one story every day for three years you will have read 1095. And if you read 10 books each week for two years, that’s 1040 books.
Already have kids in school? Don’t stop the read-alouds. Although from birth to age five are the formative years for language development, these skills continue to be honed well into elementary school. And elementary school is when kids transition from beginning readers, to emergent readers, to independent readers. Regularly reading aloud to your children will help them with this process of developing their reading skills.
I know that some days it seems impossible to find the time to read aloud to our kids. But making it part of a routine will help make it a priority. For my family, we make it part of my daughter’s bedtime routine. We all know that having a routine at bedtime helps kids sleep better, and making reading part of this routine is a good way to calm kids down and help prepare them for slumber. My daughter knows that every night, she gets two books before bedtime. This is a special time she has daily with mommy or daddy. Setting a limit to the amount of books read at one time will help establish the routine and help ensure you stick to the routine without it becoming overly time-consuming.
So where do you find 1000 books to read to your kids? The library is your best bet. Many libraries even sponsor 1000 Books Before Kindergarten reading programs. But even if you don’t get to the library often, it’s amazing how many books you can accumulate around your house in a short amount of time. Ask for books from friends and family when they are looking for gift ideas, or find used books inexpensively at garage sales, used book stores, or thrift stores. Goodwill sells kids books for a quarter. You can also arrange book swaps with friends who have kids around the same age as yours, or take donations of books from friends with older kids. And bookstores, and sometimes grocery stores, have bargain book sections with some great finds if you are looking for new books. Books of any kind can count towards the 1000, even online books and books on CD or tape. As long as your child listens to the whole book, it counts. And if your child attends story times at a library or a book store, or attends a preschool or daycare, those all provide excellent read aloud opportunities for your child as well.
Looking for ideas for quality children’s books to read to your kids? Check out the following sites. They all offer a list of 100 books you should read to your child before Kindergarten. Although the lists don’t all have the same books in their top 100, they do agree on many of the titles. After looking at these lists, I realized there are a lot of great books that I haven’t yet read to my daughter. Time for my daughter and me to head to the library!
100 books to read before Kindergarten: