March 2nd was America’s Read Across America Day.
If you aren’t already in the habit of reading to your child every day, it can feel like an awkward habit to start. I usually don't think to spontaneously offer to read to my children, so I’m guilty of the same struggle.
The thing that worked the best for my family was to establish reading as a pre-sleep routine. And I suggest the same to all my clients.
You can start reading to your child at any age from newborn on up. She may not seem to be paying attention, but even the rhythmic, soothing sound of your voice helps along her journey of language development and someday, reading.
If your older baby wants to eat the book, or grab at it and flip rapidly through the pages, or wanders away, that’s not a problem, either. Keep on offering once or twice a day. One of these days, he will surprise you and suddenly want to pay attention. Just keep the energy light and positive. What counts is that you make the effort, not that your baby focuses on reading. Keep it pleasant and non-stressful for both of you. Eventually your child will grow to love the routine of reading together.
If your preschooler prefers to watch a show over reading, change the order of things. Move TV before dinnertime, so that your child has an hour or more without exposure to blue light (the light from screens can make it harder for children to sleep, even though they seem relaxed while watching). Substitute pre-bed watching for pre-bed listening to a story.
If your older child no longer wants to be read to but doesn’t want to read independently before bed, try an audiobook. Any and all exposure to written language is helpful for your child’s growing brain, and also makes drifting off to sleep an easier process.
If you’d like to add to your child’s collection of diverse books, check out these suggestions from Read Across America that promote diversity and inclusion.
PS If you are struggling with the transition to Daylight Savings Time or other sleep transitions, schedule a free consult and get your family the sleep you deserve.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and former NICU nurse. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.