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As a child, I remember reading all the time. I loved books and I loved where my imagination took me when I read them. The books took on a whole new life as I imagined myself as my favorite characters. Every summer, my grandmother would take me to the library to pick out my books for summer reading. I would check out as many as I could and dig into each of them when I returned to her home.
This love of books followed me into adulthood. I remember bringing a boyfriend home to meet my father and we all got on the discussion of books. He said, “Rev. Gadson, your daughter has so many books. I never seen so many in one place.” Big mistake! My dad looked at him like he had three heads. Needless to say, we were not together for very much longer.
When I met my husband, he immediately recognized that we both shared a love for books but his love for them came as an adult. He will tell you that he didn’t like reading as a child but wish he did. Now, he can’t wait to get the next business or inspirational book to read.
Now that I have a child, I want him to love books like I did. Unfortunately, we live in the digital age where my child would prefer to pick up an iPhone or iPad instead of a book. At two, my son can work a phone better than most adults. He can go from one app to the next knowing exactly what each one will offer him. It’s incredible to watch but also very scary. I want Caleb to desire books this way.
I still think there is hope because we do live in a different time where we have an opportunity to still influence him to read. W have done some things to place books in the forefront of his mind at the right times. We had to get a little sneaky, but we are determined to turn our little boy into a reader and a techie (if he wants to be). Here are some techniques we are trying:
Bath, Bed, Book
We have rolled back bed time an hour. We have a night owl so even if we want Caleb to go down at 9p, it may be 9:30/10p before he actually goes to sleep. So, we decided to get prepared for bed early. After dinner, we start shifting into bedtime. We start with a bath at 8p and then either Nate or I will get in the bed with him and read a few books. If he is still not tired at 9p, we will allow him to watch one episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and then it’s lights out.
I know many of you moms will tell me that he will be overstimulated by watching TV at that time, but many times it is exactly what he needs to go to sleep. Many times, he won’t make it to the “Hot Dog Song” before he falls asleep. 😉
Purposeful Quiet Time
Caleb is two so he can be focused on one thing at one moment and then something totally different another moment. There are times where he gets so beside himself that he wants everything to go his way. Well, that’s the nature of the game with a two year old.
My husband and I incorporated something call purposeful quiet time. A friend of mine told me to have Caleb sit still for 5 minutes at a time. He’s not playing with toys or watching TV. He’s just sitting so he can calm down. During this time, we will allow him to either color or read a book. There is no negotiation here. He has only these two choices. He may whine for a bit but then he realized that these are better options than just sitting down doing nothing. This also gives us some time to sit with him and either read to him or color.
Purposeful quite time becomes purposeful quality time.
Store books in a prominent place as a constant reminder of the option.
My two-year old never ceases to amaze me. He could be running up and down the hall wanting his daddy to play tag with him and a book will stop him in his tracks. We make sure books including his are in places where he would notice. He has already started pulling books off the bookshelves and using them as tracks for his race cars.
When he passes by a book in his room, he will pick it up and ask us to read it to him. We place his books everywhere and we watch how he interacts with them. Sometimes he will pick up and pretend to read and other times he will bring to book to us to read. There are times where he just wants to flip pages himself and tell us what he sees. At this stage, we are just soaking it all in but allowing him to explore.
I hope Caleb develops a love for reading like I did but I won’t force it on him. More than anything, I want him to have an appreciation for the world around him. I would hate for him to be a bookworm whose head is always in a book and he misses an opportunity to show compassion for someone in need. I want him to look for ways to show compassion because he read about the ingenuity of someone who developed a product that impacted millions for the better.
How do you encourage your child to read more? Share your experience with us!