University of Illinois Extension

Reading Time: One of the Best Things You Can Do for Children

Amy Griswold, Family Life Educator

Reading together can be a rewarding experience for both you and your grandchildren. Research shows that one of the very best things families can do for children's development and later school success is to read aloud to them.

Setting aside time every day to read together says, "I love you and I want to spend special time sharing a story with you." It also shows the children that you enjoy reading. Studies show that the desire to read starts with the early enjoyment of being held and cuddled as a story is read.

Laptime reading not only offers feelings of warmth and security, but reading aloud to children also expands their world and vocabulary. As children grow older, you can still read together snuggled on the sofa.

Try to read aloud every day. Establish a time and place for this special sharing time - whether at bedtime or right after supper. Sit together in a comfortable place away from distractions. The sound of your voice and enjoyable interaction between you and your grandchildren will become associated with books. Even when your grandchildren begin to read on their own, continue reading together on a regular basis. Perhaps you can read longer books, one chapter at a time.

Children enjoy having some books of their own, so pick up a few inexpensive paperback books at yard sales, bookstores, or public library book sales. Look for good-condition books that contain stories that interest your family. A children's story hour at your local public library is another way to instill a love for reading. The librarian can also suggest books that will interest your grandchildren.

No matter what your situation, make a daily habit of sharing good books with your grandchildren. You'll be giving them a jump start on reading and future school success along with time to share love and attention.