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Reading With Your Grandchildren

By: AARP
Reading with your grandchild is one of the most important activities you can do together. This article will give you some tips as to how to make the most of this special time.

Bonding with grandchildren over books

Children start learning to read long before they start school. And who teaches them? You do! When you read aloud, you are helping your grandchildren become readers. You're also bonding with your grandchildren and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Reading to a grandchild is easy and lots of fun. But it does take some preparation. Here are some tips for making the most of the time you spend reading with grandchildren.

Tips for choosing good books

How can you possibly choose the right books for your grandchildren when there are so many books to choose from?

First, ask your grandchildren. If they are old enough, your grandchildren can tell you about their favorite authors, and about the things that interest them. When in doubt, take the kids to the library. Let them choose the books they want to read. Borrowing library books is free, so it's a good way to try out books and authors you've never heard of. So choosing a disappointing book won't cost you a cent. If you discover a gem, you can buy it later and give it as a gift.

Next, ask other adults. Your librarian or bookstore clerk can help you pick good children's books. Your friends can tell you about the books their grandchildren like.

Finally, read the lists. Many organizations put out lists of good books for young children. Check with the American Library Association or the International Reading Association. Your library may also have its own list.

Reading tips

Start reading to your grandchild when he or she is a baby. This may sound silly. But babies will enjoy hearing the sound of your voice. Try reciting nursery rhymes or reading simple books. Use a pleasant, sing-song voice. Let a baby play with books that are sturdy and drool-proof. That child will be hooked on books before she is out of diapers!

Read a children's book to yourself before you read it to your grandchild, says the Oregon State University Extension Service. That way you will know the book well enough to give it a lively reading. Make reading more fun by reading slowly and using different voices for different characters.

Be prepared to repeat. Reading to a child often means reading the same book over and over and over again. Kids hear something new each time you read the same old story.

Get your grandchildren involved in reading. Don't read through an entire book without a break. Instead, stop reading from time to time so you can ask your grandchild questions about the story. The American Library Association says your grandchild will enjoy telling you why he thinks something just happened in a story, or what she thinks will happen next.

The best thing about picture books is the pictures! Don't ignore those beautiful drawings, says the International Reading Association and the Children's Book Council. Instead, talk to your grandchild about each picture. Then ask your grandchild to point to the pictures while you read the words. Your grandchild will soon be able to retell the story while you point to the pictures.

Nurturing a reader

Reading books to your grandchildren is the best way to nurture young readers. But there are lots of other things you can do to get kids reading:

  • Turn off the television so there's more time for reading. Then set aside a regular time each day for reading. This could be 20 minutes before bedtime, or right after dinner.
  • Have plenty of reading material around the house, and not just books. Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a national literacy group, says kids should also read magazines, newspapers, comic books, cookbooks, food labels, catalogues, and even DVD labels.
  • Take a book with you whenever you leave the house, advises the Family Reading Partnership. That way, you can read to your grandchild while you're waiting at the doctor's office, in the grocery store, or at a restaurant. Bring books-on-tape along in the car to keep a child entertained.

Be a role model

Don't miss the opportunity to share yourself-and your love of reading-with your grandchildren. Be a role model for young readers. If you live nearby, let your grandchildren see you reading. Talk to them about the interesting things you've read. If you live far away, try reading a favorite book into a tape recorder. Send the tape to your grandchildren and then talk about the story over the phone. Your grandchildren will love you for it! And, they'll always remember that you loved them enough to give them a precious gift-the gift of reading.

AARP Resources

Other Resources

Book Lists

  • Association of Library Services to Children

    This division of the American Library Association provides several lists of good books for children.

  • Young Adult Choices for 2007

    Each year, the International Reading Association publishes a reading list of Young Adults' Choices. The list was created with help from teenagers in grades 7-10.

  • The Children's Book Council

    Check out book lists for infants, young readers, Spanish speakers, and kids who like international books, science books, and comic books. There's also a list of children's books that adults will like!

Books

Reprinted with permission from AARP.

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Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
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"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx