It seems like there is a national holiday for almost everything these days. I bet you didn’t know that January 4th was National Trivia Day or that January 10th is Peculiar People Day. (Peculiarly enough, I was aware of both of these tidbits of trivia). I’m not anti-Valentine’s Day, but I understand when people say that love should be celebrated every day, and not reserved just for one day so a few people can profit from it.
This brings me to January 23rd – National Reading Day. Like Valentine’s Day, this is a holiday that should be celebrated everyday. I put forth a conscious effort to make everyday a reading day in my home. I’m one of the biggest advocates of early reading, since I’ve seen the immense benefits in my own child. My daughter was able to recite “The Going to Bed Book” and “Green Eggs and Ham” before age 2. At age four, she can recognize close to twenty words and is able to sound out three letter words.
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” Frederick Douglass
If you’re not in the habit of reading with your children, it’s not too late to start. Here are a few suggestions on how to commemorate National Reading Day 2014 and begin a lifelong love of reading.
1. Get everyone in your family a library card.
Even with the multitude of online bookstores, there’s just something fun about going to the library and signing out your own book. Plus, libraries always have creative fun activities for kids so it’s a good way to get the kids out of the house on those long summer days. You can also have a reading challenge with your family. The one who reads the most books over a month, gets a $50 gift card. For all those competitive parents out there, the idea is to let your kids win. The main objective here is to model reading yourself.
2. Find a great bedtime story.
For very young children, you don’t need a huge variety of books. They tend to like the familiarity of knowing what will come next, so it’s probably best to keep your bedtime routine pretty standard with one or two books. As I said earlier, my toddler knew “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton so well that she would often read it to me at bedtime.
3. Read the book first and reward your child (or yourself) with the movie
It can be hard to compete with the technology that kids have access to. Reading can seem boring compared to the TV, computer or iPad. To combat this, my husband and I rewarded our oldest daughter with technology, ironically enough. We looked for books that were in movie form. If she read the entire book, she was allowed to watch the movie. This also opened up discussion. “What were the differences between the book and the movie?”, “Did you like the movie more than the book?”. “Were the characters the same as you imagined?
4. Write your own story
My oldest daughter and I started writing our own children’s book together. She’s extremely creative and is often at her best when she writes. It may not ever get published, but it’s been a fun way for us to spend time together and encourage our own creativity. It’s also an effective way for me to see how she is doing in this subject area. With older kids, pay attention to how fluently they can read, their understanding of story structure as well as their overall comprehension of the book.
Let’s not make this into just another hallmark holiday. Like love, reading should be celebrated and shared on a daily basis. Consider the words of Colin Firth, one of our favorite leading/reading men –
“When I’m really into a novel, I’m seeing the world differently during that time – not just for the hour or so in the day when I get to read. I’m actually walking around in a bit of a haze, spellbound by the book and looking at everything through a different prism.”
Sounds like love to me.