This week, we celebrate Children’s Book Week with all our friends from the States, which runs from 2 May to 8 May. It’s their 97th anniversary which “[celebrates] books for young people and the joy of reading”. Join us, as Sylvia and I will be sharing with you our thoughts on reading, language and some of our favourite books on this space and instagram at 2mamas4kids.
Reading before bedtime is one of the times of the day that I treasure and enjoy with C. It’s probably the only quality time we spend together on a regular work day. She would snuggle close beside me, and we learn and bond through reading.
Reading is a habit that the husband and I value and would like to inculcate in our children. Both of us have different “reading backgrounds”. He loves to read, ever since I knew him. In fact he was the one who (re-)introduced me to reading. I was expected to read from young but never quite enjoyed it. Since I picked up reading, I realized I missed out on so much from my younger days. It was also then that I figured that I would want my children to love to read. After C turned 1, I went on a books spree and we are still building our little collection of books. (I was secretly waiting if we will be gifted any books).
Why read? What are the benefits of reading?
Reading teaches language. I have been told to read all my life but never quite being taught how to read. Haha. Through reading a variety of genres, we learn about vocabulary, sentence structure and the et cetra of language. It helps to encourage communication too, which are two essential components of practising and improving on any language.
Reading teaches and brings you to places you haven’t been before. When you want to help you child to ease into a new experience (e.g. having a younger sibling, bedtime routines etc), learn about a new topic or before/after a trip, READ. We read to help C get the idea of having a younger brother, we read before traveling to Australia, we read to learn about colours etc.
Reading is a great bonding time between parent and child. Reading together, even for 20 minutes, helps parent and child foster a closer and stronger relationship. This is the time we cuddle together, learn about each other, learn together, and for older children, an opportunity to discuss about topics from the books.
Reading helps improve concentration. This is a gradual process as children learn to sit through a story when parents read to them and eventually learn to read.
Okay now I know reading is good, but what books should I begin with?
- Personally, I prefer books that have a longer mileage. The same books that I can use at 1 year old to 3 or even 4 year old. We focus on different parts of the book at different ages so these books are used over and over and over again. Making every cent count! There are some repeated titles for books recommended for 1 year olds, 2 year olds, 3 year olds and 4 year olds on GoodReads. Go figure.
2. I love books with beautiful illustrations. Before children learn to read, they learn through illustrations. Different illustration styles are useful in teaching aesthetics appreciation. Some of our favourites include: Eric Carle’s, Naoko Stoop’s, Oliver Jeffers‘.
3. You can never go wrong with classics. These includes The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Corduroy, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Dear Zoo and Where the Wild Things Are.
4. For a starter, begin with books that has little text on each page. For young readers, text should help them connect with the illustrations. They also wouldn’t want to wait too long before they can flip the page. For beginner readers, they should be practising reading the text and not be distracted or overwhelmed by too much to read.
5. Board books are great for young readers! I love board books because I can let C handle the book as she likes. I don’t have to worry about her tearing the pages or chewing it up. I let C play with the book, like a toy. That’s one way to introduce the idea of books to them. If we keep going ‘oh no, you will tear it’, ‘don’t tear it’ etc, they may resist books. I also have friends who collects second hand books so she wouldn’t need to worry about all the doodling and possible tears.
6. Avoid books based on famous characters. There are better books than that. Jenae from icanteachmychild has a great write up on why avoid such books and other tips to select a good book.