As parents, we all wish we had more time to read to our kids. And we’re equally aware of how the rush of school, work and other family activities can crowd out those slow, quiet times necessary for nurturing our child’s love of books. As the father of three active children, it seems my wife and I never have enough of the “lap time” Emilie Buchwald refers to.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
~ Emilie Buchwald, award-winning children’s novelist

So what’s a busy family to do when the lap time gets crowded out? Is it possible to nurture your child’s love of reading and maintain the pace of modern family life? How does your family find time for literacy in a Blackberry-paced world?

Here are some literacy tips for early readers:

  • Point out print in the child’s environment – on cereal boxes, food labels, toys, restaurants and traffic signs. Sing songs, say short poems or nursery rhymes and play rhyming word games with your child.
  • Read a short passage several times to your child until he or she can read it with you. Then encourage your child to read the passage to you.
  • Encourage older children to read with younger children.
  • Encourage your child to read (or pretend read) to you. Make this reading enjoyable. Don’t worry if your child does not read all of the words correctly but, rather, applaud your child’s efforts to read.
  • Have books, magazines and newspapers around the house. Let your child see you reading.
  • Encourage your child to write messages such as grocery lists, to-do lists, post cards, etc. He or she also could write short messages to family members or friends. Don’t worry about conventional spelling at this point but, rather, encourage your child’s first efforts at authorship.

Parents, what do you think? Post a comment and share your early reader successes!

Aaron Heffernan~ Aaron Heffernan, MA, LCSW, Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin

Aaron is a child and family therapist at Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin specializing in trauma counseling. He has experience working with clients who are coping with depression, anxiety, divorce, and family and community violence. He is a certified practitioner of EMDR, and uses expressive modalities such as play therapy, bibliotherapy and music and art-based therapies with a wide range of clients.

Aaron is also a current partner with Project Ujima, a hospital-based program committed to helping families cope with community violence. He uses Hip Hop Music Therapy with many of his urban adolescent clients through their community outreach program.

Read more blog posts by Aaron Heffernan.


Finding time for literacy in a Blackberry-paced world — 4 Comments

  1. Funny, I put my foot down Sunday night about too much tv and electronics with my kids (8,9,15,16). I suggested to my 8 year old son that he go grab a book and work on his Racine Reads and Six Flags reading logs/contests. He started a Diary of a Whimpy Kid book he rec’d for his birthday and is almost done. As we were getting in the car to go pick up his sister, he asked me if he could bring his book, then asked if he could turn the light on to read it…..HE IS HOOKED! I am excited.

    An hour or so later when we are back home…”Max, what are you doing?” I call from the kitchen…….still reading. Mommy freaking, happily.

    He finished the 200 page book last night. Amazing.

  2. Dear Paula, How wonderful! We too have had great success in our household with Diary of a Wimpy kid. What do you think about reading one of the books that your son is reading? My boys have enjoyed reading the series with me, when I’m able to carve out the time. I’ve come across some thoughts on how to engage discussion in the Wimpy Kid series that might be interesting to try:
    – Would you ever keep a journal?
    – Would you include art and humor the way author Jeff Kinny does?
    – What do you think of Greg’s friendship with Rowley? Do you have friendships like that?

    For more ideas on how to engage discussion with your kids on what they’re reading, check out:

    Thanks so much for the post! Happy reading!

  3. Hi Aaron,

    Sounds like a great idea. Sadly, while I impose reading on my kids, I am a terrible reading role model for my kids. Though, I think they may think that I am more of a reader than I am as I have books on my nightstand and actively carry a book around with me (ie: thinking I’ll read in the waiting area during daughter’s dance class).

    I will take on one of your suggestions, check out the website, and probably blog about our experience.

    I actually write a blog as part of my business (really not wanting to shamelessly plug, really). And this technology overload episode and my son’s sudden reading interest, prompted me to write about it:

    Like I mentioned, he finished that book and now is onto Rodrick Rules (just started last night). He was back at the DS Wed-Mon.

    Do you suggest reading the Diary of a Whimpy Kids books in order?

  4. Dear Paula

    Thanks for the link to your blog! I encourage others to check it out for some funny and informative discussion around parenting, grandparenting, and foster parenting, as well as information on kid and family-friendly events in the Racine, Kenosha, SE Wisconsin area.

    I wonder if your son might be willing to share some of his thoughts about Diary of a Wimpy Kid for your blog? While it might not be possible to read alongside our kids all the time, I think that the very process of discussing books with your child can be just as important. It might be a fun way to engage his unique perspective!

    And to answer your question, I don’t think it’s vital to read the whole DWK series in any sort of linear way. Might be best to just try and keep up with what your boy is reading — sounds like he’s moved on to Rodrick Rules!.

    Thanks for the comment. I’m hoping to have a new post early next week.