For the next 30 days, I’ll be tackling 26 A to Z topics related to children’s literature. As Sesame Street would say, today is brought to you by the letter B, and we’ll be talking about bonding as a family through books.
Since today also is International Children’s Book Day, this seems an especially appropriate day to bond with your kids over a few children’s books!
There are a lot of ways for families to bond.
Family dinners. Game nights. Backyard games of catch or basketball. Cookouts and bonfires. Trips and outings.
But my favorite by far — the activity that can be practiced anywhere at any time of year — is reading.
Popular children’s book publisher Scholastic shared an article on its website, “Make the Connection: Read with your child – it’s the perfect way to bond,” which shares the following insights:
“The intimate experience of reading yields important lessons about behavior, feelings, and the enduring bonds of relationships. It’s a gift for time-challenged parents. … Snuggle together before lights-out, or schedule a Sunday morning reading hour, and you rekindle emotional closeness as well as impart important lessons, ease difficult transitions, heal personal pain, and celebrate family life.
Colorful illustrations draw a child even further into the story, allowing him to make a stronger connection between his personal experience and the story he’s hearing. Remind him of similar times you’ve shared together and you strengthen the link: “Remember when we saw the monkeys at the zoo?” “Remember when we splashed in the ocean?”
Experts recommend reading to children from the time they’re born to help parents and infants bond. In a Parents magazine slideshow (“The Benefits of Reading to Your Newborn“), Dr. Mary Ann Abrams says reading exposes infants to the sound of a parent’s voice, which is soothing for them. Reading also helps babies in neonatal intensive care wings develop the same intimacy as babies and parents who are home together after birth.
For older children, reading sessions can be healthy one-on-one time with a parent or an opportunity to spend time with the entire family. It’s a relaxing activity for winding down at the end of the day (hence the popularity of storytime coinciding with bedtime).
Activities to bond over books
Want to go a step beyond bedtime stories and family reading night? Here are a few family reading activities to get everyone involved.
- Family book club: Create a family book club. Each evening, a member of the family gets to select a book for the family to read together and lead the discussion. Giving kids the chance to choose titles and guide a discussion gives them healthy opportunities for decision-making and group leadership. A family book club also offers nightly or weekly gatherings of relaxing activity.
- Create a reading nook: You know what they say. Location, location, location. Having a creative designated spot at home for reading sessions can add a twist of fun. Especially when they’re comfortable and good for snuggles. Check out these closet reading nooks on Pinterest for ideas. Everyone in the family can pitch in for how to decorate and which books to stock in the nook.
- Book review website: Break out your blogging skills and set up a simple site on WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, or another free platform. Families can read a book together, then write and post a review together on the website. The bonus: This activity enhances reading as well as writing skills.
- Reading with relatives: Does a grandparent or aunt/uncle live far away? One way for kids to keep in touch, establish a bond, and strengthen literacy skills is to read via phone or Skype. Who said book bonding has to be done in person?
- Book and a movie night: Carve out a few hours on a Friday or Saturday night to do a book and movie night. Read a book together, then watch the movie version. Grab a bowl of popcorn and a blanket and snuggle up to the story. Talk about their similarities and differences. What do you like or dislike about each? (Dr. Seuss books and films are a great starting point.)