One of the nicest ways to spend a cold, rainy or otherwise miserable day is to curl up with a good book. And sitting outside reading in the shade is a nice way to spend a warm, sunny day! Encourage the love of reading and of books in your children and grandchildren.
Start reading to your children when they’re tiny babies. They may not understand all the words, but they’ll enjoy being cuddled next to you, hearing your voice, and looking at colorful pictures. (And you’ll be surprised how much they do understand.) While there are plenty of board books designed with the very young child in mind, anything with nice pictures will do. (When granddaughter Olivia was a baby, we looked at a lot of craft catalogs.) You don’t have to actually read the words on the page, you can talk about the pictures and name things, colors and shapes. Before long, you’ll be able to ask your baby “Can you find the kitty?” and she’ll find it!
Children who know how to read themselves still like you to read to them. Pick a good children’s story or series, and read a few chapters every night. I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia to my daughter when she was in grade school, and she’s read them all to herself at least twice since then.
Have regular family reading nights, a time when family members can read aloud and share their thoughts about their favorite books. Exactly how you structure this would depend on the reading skills of your children, but be sure even the youngest readers have out-loud reading time.
When you read out loud, make the words sparkle! Don’t drone everything in a boring monotone, but use expressive tones of voice and different voices if you can (I love doing wicked witch voices!). Also use gestures, body motions, and easy sound effects. Kids books are fun to read out loud, so have fun doing it!!
Many children’s movies are based on classic children’s books. If your child likes the Mary Poppins movie, she might enjoy the 8 Mary Poppins books by P.L. Travers, all packed with wonderful magical adventures. Do you have a The Wizard of Oz movie fan in the house? There are 14 Oz books by L. Frank Baum, plus many more by other authors, including several wonderful original graphic novels by Eric Shanower. (I highly recommend his The Enchanted Apples of Oz and The Ice King of Oz.) Many other movies are also based on children’s books, such as Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland. (The Disney movie actually combines both Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.)
What interests your child? Medieval warfare? Barbie dolls? Rock collecting? Jungle animals? Whatever his or her interests, there are sure to be books, magazines, and/or web sites with information to read and lots to learn.