Did you ever overhear one or both of your parents joke that they weren’t sure if they were coming or going? It’s true: raising a family keeps you endlessly busy. There’s never a dull moment when it comes to parenthood, as they say.
If you find that your family is on the go quite often—and you’re committed to raising a reader—you’ll need to find creative ways to keep your children interested in reading no matter where they are or where they’re going. Fortunately, your friends here at Sol Book Box are here to help! We’d like to offer you some suggestions in regards to maintaining your children’s strong reading habits no matter what your or your spouse’s schedule looks like, or where your family is traveling next.
In the Car
When traveling by car, a backseat organizer containing some of your child’s favorite books would be a fantastic way to encourage your child to read en route. You may even wish to include some pencils and paper so that when they’ve finished reading, you can ask them to draw a picture of their favorite characters or scenes.
The car is also a great place to listen to audiobooks. Purchase (or borrow from the library) some audiobooks that you think will best capture your child’s attention and spark their imagination. Audiobooks are especially helpful when it comes to passing the time on a long car ride. Sometimes it’s easy to forget—but important to remember—that your child’s reading development entails more than reading and writing. It also involves the art of listening.
On a Plane or On a Train
Taking a ride on a plane or on a train? Consider giving your child something fun to look forward to! Before your trip, visit your local bookstore or secondhand store and purchase a few new or used books (whatever your preference). Wrap them as you would a birthday present and be sure to carry them with you when you board the plane or train. When you’re all settled in, tell your child that you have a surprise for them and then gift them the books either all at once or at hourly intervals. We bet it will be so exciting for them to dive into books they haven’t seen before and, after they read them independently and/or with you, you can spend some time discussing the characters and settings they encountered. May we suggest, by the way, including some Spanish children’s books as part of your gift? Bilingual reading can enrich your child’s life, and when their movement is restricted in these two aforementioned forms of transportation, your child may feel as if they have more time to appreciate and “dig in” to those bilingual books.
While we’ll always believe that there’s nothing better than holding a book in your hands and flipping through its pages, we do live in a technology-driven world these days. That said, we recommend giving your child some screentime if indeed you feel comfortable with that. We’d be remiss not to acknowledge that there are a lot of wonderful reading apps available—apps that invite your child to practice sight words and phonics; apps that will read books to your child at their own pace; apps that feature exciting games related to the books’ contents. Prior to your trip, you may want to research the top reading apps according to your child’s age, that way you know exactly what they’re up to on the screen.
On the Sidelines, At the Office, or Elsewhere
Picture this: big brother has soccer practice. Your youngest child has asked you to read to them, but you’re all on your way out the door. The good news is that you don’t have to disappoint your little bookworm by saying that “there’s no time” to read. Because guess what? There’s always time to read! Pack up the book (and don’t forget some water and snacks) and when your family arrives at the soccer field, read together on the sideline while big brother runs up and down the field. Your child will so appreciate that you made the effort to read to them and—bonus!—you’ll set a good example for both children by demonstrating that you can read in so many different settings.
Here’s another potentially relatable scenario: your work schedule is quite hectic this week, and you find yourself needing to stop by the office with your child in tow. You don’t have any children’s books at the office, so perhaps you can find your child a newspaper or a magazine to look at and enjoy. Children seem to love looking at photographs, and newspapers and magazines are certainly full of them. Now, if your child is at the age in which they are working on their literacy skills, you can challenge them to circle all the sight words they know so that by the time you’re done with your tasks, you and your child can go over the words together. If you want, you can even count all the sight words they circled and then reward your child with a surprise for their patience and willingness to practice reading with a stop at, say, the playground on the way home.
No matter how busy your family’s life may seem and how “on the go” you all are, we applaud you for taking the steps necessary to raise a reader. One of the biggest advantages of books is that they are easily transportable. You can take a book with you anywhere and keep your entire family of bookworms entertained as you move from one adventure to the next.
Even at a young age, children are able to comprehend that there are days when it’s “go, go, go!” With that in mind, we’d like to conclude this blog post by saying that the beauty of reading—and this goes for both children and adults—is that it encourages you to slow down, to take some time for yourself, to escape into a different world. And when you emerge from that world, what a pleasure it is to see your own in a new light, to know that even on your busiest days, you’re doing a stellar job when it comes to instilling a love of books in your child.