Does your little one love to read before bed? Reading before bed can be a fun, healthy ritual to help you and your little ones wind down at night. However, as babies grow to toddlers, and toddlers to preschoolers, the evening stack of bedtime stories can begin to look like a small skyscraper on the nightstand. Does this sound familiar? If so, your child might be ready for chapter books.
But wait, aren’t chapter books for older kids? Well, technically, they’re for older kids who read independently, but that doesn’t mean that your three, four or five year old wouldn’t enjoy listening to you read them aloud. As a general rule, a child’s listening level is about three years above their independent reading level. Reading chapter books to children before bed helps build a rich vocabulary and strengthens focus–important skills for life!
Here are some tips to keep in mind when beginning the practice of reading multi-evening stories:
For your first books, start off with something short, like Magic Tree House or Catwings. After successfully sharing these smaller stories, work your way up to classics, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.
Only read what you want to
You can pick and choose when it comes to reading large books. If you’re in a slow section, summarize and skip ahead! If there’s a part of the story that you think is too mature for your child, make up your own version of the event. If you’re 50 pages in and neither you nor your child are enjoying it, pick a new book! The goal is for you and your child to have a warm, cozy, relaxing experience, not to read all of Shakespeare’s greatest works before Kindergarten.
Take your sweet time
As an adult, I love listening to audiobooks on my phone via Hoopla and Libby where I can speed up the speaking to get through the book faster. Children, however, do everything much slower, as everything is new and there is a great deal of information soaking into their brains. Keep a slow pace, and use as many dynamic character voices as you can to keep your audience engaged. This is such a magical time for you and your child, so savor the moments, and treasure the memories.
If you’re ready to take this big step with your little one, then check out this list of books guaranteed to keep them begging for “one more chapter, please!” Happy reading!
Photo credit: woodleywonderworks on the cusp of seven: reading diary of a wimpy kid via flickr (license)