3 Easy, Simple Ways to Keep your Kids Reading this Summer

Image courtesy of Time.com

I’ve read a lot of articles about ways to make sure your children keep reading over the summer.  Many involve signing up for some type of reading club, tracking the number of books read, reading charts, and rewards.  While this may work for some families, it just doesn’t in ours.  We are so busy with activities, charts, tracking, etc during the school year, and I just prefer summer to be a time to take a step back and RELAX!

It doesn’t mean however, that I want my kids to stop reading.  I want them to read, and I want them to WANT to read.  I just prefer a more low-key approach, and this works for us.  So here are a few easy, simple ways you can ensure your children continue reading throughout the summer:

  • Visit your public library weekly.

That’s it!  There are no rules when you get to the library other than your kids get to choose what book they want to pick out.  Some libraries also have Children’s Storytime once a week.  My kids love this.  {On a side note:  This can be a good time to go as well, because chances are someone else’s kids will be screaming and yelling…so you won’t feel so bad if your own have a meltdown!}  Libraries offer more than just books, and I’m okay with that.  If my kids want to check out a movie or hop on the library computer for a bit – I let them.  I want the library to be an experience they enjoy and look forward too.

  • Change up your reading spot frequently.

I’ve written about this before, but it truly is the easiest way to make reading fun.  I let the kids decide what new and fun spots (inside or out) they would like to pick for reading.  We’ve read in my son’s crib, in home-made forts, in the playset, at the picnic table, under the table,  in the dark with a flashlight…you name it.

  • Make time for reading.

During the school year bedtime is when we read.  In the summer it’s just not the best time for our family.  We are outdoors every evening and typically let the kids stay up later.  So we do our best to try and carve out time earlier in the day for this.  My rule this summer is for the kids to wake up, make their beds, brush their teeth, and do a few simple chores.  Before they can turn on the TV, they need to read for 20 minutes.   Sometimes I do hear a few groans, but once we start reading they forget about the TV and sometimes end up reading longer than I had even hoped for.

If you have other tips or ideas on how to keep your little ones reading this summer, please share with us!

Tips for Finding Bargain-Priced Children’s Books

On my way home from work last night I made one of my favorite stops to visit the kids section at Barnes & Noble.  This is a very dangerous section for me (even more so when my kids are with me!).  And it’s no secret this is not the cheapest place to purchase books for your children.  My husband was flabbergasted to find out I spent $50 on 4 books last night, and that was even with my Barnes & Noble membership card.  I’m honestly embarrased to admit I spent that much too..but when I got to the counter I just couldn’t find a book to put back!

So it got me thinking that my obsession with children’s books needs to be put in check.  That doesn’t mean I need to stop buying them all together, but I need to be better about looking for deals, shopping at the right stores, and buying at the right time of year.  Here are a few tips to finding deals and paying less for your favorite children’s books.

Shop at Discount Book Stores.  Ok – yes this is an obvious one.  Often it’s more convenient to pick up a book at Target or a pricey bookstore in a mall – because you are already there doing other shopping.  But you are going to pay for it!  My favorite discount book store is Half Price Books, which sells new, used, and out-of-print books.  They have a children’s section and have many well-known titles and authors at prices that will make your jaw drop.  I have purchased several books there for 99 cents.  Don’t go in there looking for something specific though as it may be hard to find.  I love it for discovering new authors and finding old books from my own childhood.  They even have a website where you can search for books by title or ISBN and then purchase online.

Buy Online.  Buying children’s books online is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to save money.  The only downside is you can’t read the book beforehand, however some sites like Amazon allow you too look inside the book.  You have many options here, Amazon.com, Overstock.com, BookCloseOuts.com, Booksamillion.com, you get the idea.  Each of the sites I listed link directly to their children’s section to make shopping easier.

Check out Thrift Stores.  Shopping at your local thrift store for children’s books is a fantastic way to find the lowest prices.  What’s cool is you can find many vintage children’s books at thrift stores that you or even your parents may have read as a child.  Sure some of the books might be a bit worn…but for the low prices they are worth it (think shabby-chic children’s books)!

Shop the Bargain Priced Section.  You don’t have to avoid the big book-sellers such as Barnes & Noble all together!  When shopping in the kids section at Barnes & Noble look for the “Bargain-Priced” section or sale tables with featured authors or holiday books.  The best time to buy the holiday books of course is after the holidays.  Right now many of the Valentine’s Day books are 50 percent off!

Membership Cards.  Many bookstores will offer discounts such as 5-10% off books if you become a member.  There is often a small fee to join, but it doesn’t take long before your discount exceeds the price to join.

Where do you buy children’s books?  I would love to hear your tips and book store recommendations to save money on children’s books!

Tips for Reading to Energetic Toddlers

Ever since we replaced my daughters crib with a twin mattress on the floor (I haven’t found a bed I like just yet), my kids only want to jump on the bed and play during storytime.  At first I would get frustrated and try to force them to sit with me in our reading chair.  But this wasn’t fun and I had to remind myself they are young, energetic toddlers. Below are a few tips to help you make the most of storytime with your energetic toddler.

Don’t expect your kids to sit still – or even sit at all!

Toddlers are always on the go.  Mine are either jumping on the bed, skipping around the room, or spinning in circles while I read to them.  Even though it may not look like they are listening, trust me they are.  They often stop to look at certain pages based on what they hear me reading.

Let your kids choose what book they want to read.

Your children will be more interested if they feel in control and it’s a book they picked out all by themself. 

Make mistakes on purpose with the books you read most often.

This keeps your children on their toes and they will LOVE correcting you.

Choose interactive books.

Books that keep kids engaged with question/response or silly songs will keep your little readers tuned in.

Make reading fun.

If it’s not fun they won’t want to do it.  Don’t feel like you have to finish every book you start reading.  For you type A moms (like myself)…it’s OKAY to pick out a new book and start over!  And remember, toddlers have a short attention span so keep reading times short and just read more often.

Mix Things Up! Getting Creative With Reading

Every night I read 2-3 books to my four year old son Johnny and my two year old daughter Layla.  We typically sit in Layla’s room (which is still the nursery because I am lucky enough that she has never tried to climb out of her crib!).  Her room has a big, white comfy chenille upholstered rocking chair that the three of us squeeze into.  It’s tight and I won’t lie, there are often fights between the two about arms or feet touching, or one is distracting the other by holding their favorite toy.  That all aside, it’s the best, and I LOVE that special time with the kids.

Recently I have noticed they often want to play more with toys than have me read to them – not necessarily at night before bed, but during the day.  I know this probably has a lot to do with the excitement of new Christmas toys…but I love reading to them and I want to keep it fun for them as well.

I have decided to “mix things up” and surprise them with new spaces where we can read together.  I’ve come up with the following ideas:

  • Read in their closets with the lights off using a flashlight.
  • Drape a few blankets over our small round kitchen table and make a tent so we can read together in a “hide-out”.
  • Play preschool in the basement and pretend I am Johnny’s teacher reading his class a book.
  • Read to them while eating lunch.  Hey – this might even get them to eat their veggies without thinking or whining about it!
  • Read on the bed together.
  • Read in mommy and daddy’s bed together.
  • Go to the library.
  • Have them read to me.  This is really fun with board books, I love hearing their interpretations of each page!

Do you have a special place that you read to your children? Leave us a comment and tell us how you “mix things up”!

When & How to Read to Your Toddler

We always hear how important it is to read to our children.  I recently came across a great article by Kids Health about Toddler Reading Time.  As a mother of two toddlers, the section below caught my eye.  For the full article visit KidsHealth.org.

When and How to Read to Toddlers:

Experts recommend reading to toddlers as often as possible, striving for at least one scheduled reading time each day. Choosing regular times to read (especially before naps and bedtime) helps kids learn to sit with a book and relax. But you can read anytime your child seems in the mood.
If your toddler will let you, hold him or her in your lap when you read. It’s a great spot for:

  • helping kids feel safe, happy, and relaxed
  • giving undivided attention
  • showing new things
  • inviting participation

You’ll find that your toddler wants to be independent and successful. Encourage this by offering three or four books to choose from, praising the selection, letting your toddler help you turn pages, and asking for help as you find things on a page. Your child will love to finish sentences in books with repetitive phrasing or rhymes.

Here are some additional reading tips:

  • Read whatever books your toddler asks for, even if it’s the same book every night for weeks and weeks (and weeks and weeks).
  • Read slowly enough for your toddler to understand.
  • Read expressively, using different voices for different characters and raising or lowering your voice as appropriate.
  • Use puppets, finger plays (like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”), or props while you read.
  • Encourage your toddler to clap or sing when you read rhythmic, sing-song books.
  • Talk about the illustrations. Point to items and name them. Then ask your child to name them with you and offer enthusiastic praise.
  • Ask open-ended questions — “Why do you think the lion is going into the woods? What do you think will happen next?” This encourages your child to think about the story and to ask questions.
  • Substitute your child’s name for the name of a character in the book.
  • Have fun! Show your child that reading is enjoyable.

Source:  Kids Health, http://kidshealth.org