I have always loved reading – being able to escape life to my own imagination for a few hours. Lets face it, nothing beats curling up with a cup of tea and a good book, especially in this wintery weather or as a child embarking on any adventure you could imagine through the black shapes on a white page. Preferably with plenty of blankets and an open fire, if possible.
It didn’t take me long to realise that this love was something I felt was important to pass on to my son, Llewellyn. Here are 5 ways you can ignite a love of reading in your child.
- Create a Reading area, nook or corner.
As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I started creating an area in Llewellyn’s nursery where we could easily ‘cwtch’ up with a story before bed. For me it was probably the most important part of his nursery. I wanted to make a reading nook that was book themed to make it slightly set apart from the rest of the nursery and hopefully make the whole reading and stories tradition more fun and interesting for my son. And cosy, cosy, cosy.
- Read bedtime stories to your children.
I started to read to Llewellyn from pretty well the moment he was born. To begin with, it wasn’t a set routine, but either during a feed or at whatever part of the night I felt was ‘bedtime’. I realised we were going to need a lot more books when I could mostly recite The Gruffalo by the time Llewellyn was 6 weeks old. Now I start reading a book at bedtime while I am getting him into his pyjamas as it tends to keep him, more or less in one place.
- Make the stories fun and interactive for young children.
Stories are fun especially when you’re a child, they’re full of make believe and impossibilities to the adult mind, therefore reading shouldn’t be a chore or a struggle. I try to make the stories as fun as possible for Llewellyn. I’m not particularly good at making books interactive, all my voices get mixed up and pointing stuff out makes me feel patronising (it isn’t of course) so I struggle. Flap books I can do. I generally let Llewellyn choose the book but, if he is playing about at bedtime then, I will pick one out and face it towards him so that he can look at the pictures as well when he wants. If he is sat on my knee and turning the pages, I read whatever page we are on, it must sound very odd to anyone listening but Llewellyn is happy with it and I don’t want tired tears over a page.
- Have books easily accessible to your child.
We have books everywhere, in baskets on the floor in Llewellyn’s room, in his going out rucksack, in another basket in the living room, on the dining room table, bath books. Llewellyn is definitely growing up with books and whether they are his own that he picks up and lifts the flaps or ours that he pulls out of the bookshelves, he spends a good deal of his day playing with books.
In December, we went to the Nutcracker on Ice at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and Llewellyn loved it for about 40 minutes and was interested in everything that was going on in front of him, jumping about, clapping with the audience and laughing. But then he got bored, (as all children are prone to do) so, I had a rummage in his rucksack and brought out a drink, a snack as it was nearly lunch time and some toys…. this kept him amused for all of 5 minutes. I then produced 2 tiny Fisher Price board books that are about colours, shapes, sounds or numbers. They’re very colourful and I can definitely recommend sticking them in any changing bag for distraction. He was glued to them for the rest of the show, opening them up flipping the pages, turning them upside down… maybe he just likes cardboard and it has nothing to do with it being a book.
There have been a few nights when Llewellyn has woken up and wanted to play, I’m not really up for this, I like my sleep and like most mothers it has become rather sacred. However, I will read a book with him, preferably a flap book so he mostly does it himself and is exhausted within 20 minutes if not sooner. Books are definitely my go to parenting ‘tool’ for most occasions. Perhaps because we began reading him stories from the beginning they work for us. We also don’t have a lot of TV in our home.
- Find books that interest your child.
I believe there are books everyone can enjoy. I know plenty of ‘non-booky’ people who barely ever pick up a book but they do if they watch the first Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Lord of the Rings and want to know what happens next (back in the day a bit, I know). The books we ‘learn to read’ through are never particularly interesting in my experience and I think it is important to find books that are interesting to your child, whether it’s flaps and different textures, books with more pictures so that pages of words are not so daunting, books about sport, animals, history, playing outdoors and adventures, how to build ‘X’, how ‘Y’ works or films (behind the scenes or the next in the series).
It’s a matter of finding the right book and style of writing for your child.
Alice – 20 something mum to Llewellyn, military wife to Tom, dog-mum to Zoubi and homemaker.
She has recently launched her business Storytale Decor. The idea was born during the creation of Llewellyn’s nursery when she couldn’t find exactly what she wanted and set about making it for herself.
Avid reader (of course), lover of pilates and the great outdoors.
Personal IG: @aliceefskinner
Business IG: @storytaledecor
Etsy Shop: www.esty.co.uk/shop/StorytaleDecor