“When I say to a parent, “read to a child”, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. ” — Mem Fox

In my opinion, a house is not complete until it has shelves full of books. The books should be well read. They should have tattered edges and turned corners and coffee stains on the pages and the fingerprints of friends who you have shared the book with. For me, reading is an essential part of life. It is the escape to other lands, different times and diverse cultures. More than that, reading educates, informs and plays such a huge part in shaping your view of the world. And in the words of Emilie Buchwald, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” With that in mind here are five tips to help your kids discover the joy of reading.

1. You can never start the love of books and reading too early. I started reading to Olivia even before she was born. I pulled out my old favourite tattered and torn bedtime stories book and would read to my growing bump each night. It may have looked crazy to anyone observing but come to think of it, anyone observing me in my bed at night would be just plain creepy! I found it to be a wonderful bonding experience with my baby bump.

2. Juggling a newborn and a book is impossible. I barely had the confidence to hold my newborn daughter and then I tried holding her along with a book in my desperation to have her inherit my love of reading. But in the early newborn days it doesn’t matter if you read the words on the page or can’t even turn the pages. Just get your baby used to sitting on your lap “reading” a book together.

3. Reading aloud is about so much more than the words on the page. It is about pictures, characters, events and places. Often picture books have so much going on that kids need time to examine the pages. Let them touch, scan and ask questions. Point out different things each time you read a book and watch their little minds turning over. With babies put their hand to the page and name the objects as they pass their hand over. Olivia loves to hold the edges of the book and turn the pages so let her. Sometimes she skips a page but I know we will read the book a hundred more times in the future so I don’t stress about it.

4. Let your child choose the books you read together but be sure to throw in a few stretch books. You may find that they have old favourites they grow attached to but you can slowly introduce more difficult books each night. If they are attached to certain books try letting them choose one book each night followed by a book of your choosing. This will introduce them to different subject matter and keep their little minds constantly working.

5. Finally, use reading aloud to teach and continue conversations about important life experiences going on in your child’s life. For older children you can ask questions about what they would do if they were a character in the book. For younger children it can be as simple as pointing to an animal and asking your child what noise it makes. There are also many books about toilet training that you might find useful.

Reading together with your kids is such a joy. Soak up every minute as before you know it they won’t need you to read to them anymore and you will long for those days with your baby on your lap.

“You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me.” — Strickland Gillilan

This post is brought to you by ASG.

ASG LogoAustralian Scholarships Group (ASG) is a not-for-profit organisation and specialist education benefits provider.  ASG has supported over 509,000 children and their families to offset the cost of education.  But now ASG is moving towards offering more than just education funds. They’re creating an ever-expanding suite of resources, online tools and guides – like the ‘Motivating children to learn’ e-guide – to support parents and nurture children in their educational journey so they can reach their full potential. Visit www.asg.com.au to discover member benefits or call 1800 648 945.

More articles regarding education issues, development, family members and parenting available on www.asg.com.au/resources

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