I am glad to be back with more activities and ideas on how to engage siblings of different ages into the same activity. Today I will be offering some tips on Reading With Your Sibling.
Both my husband and I grew up around tons of books. We were bookworms and we used to spend time at the libraries and borrow as many books as possible. Until now I fondly think of my childhood books and whenever I visit my mother’s house I go through the books I used to read as a child.
I am happy to say that so far both my girls are growing up with the love for books and we are doing our best to nurture this love. Unfortunately, in our age of multiple digital devices books are being replaced by screens and ebooks. While there is a great advantage to that (less space consuming, no need for cleaning, no dust, no bookworms etc), more and more children miss out on that wonderful sensory activity – opening and going through the book, page by page, with illustrations, seeing different prints and even inhaling the special smells that new and old books have.
Since our now 5.5 year old started reading on her own a year ago, we’ve been encouraging her to read for her younger sister (who is currently 22 months old). Younger siblings mimic and follow what older siblings do for a very long time and encouraging positive behaviour in older siblings will guarantee more of the same in younger ones. It doesn’t always work, of course, to have our older daughter read for the younger one. However, once she does, it is a real magic: the little one is absolutely mesmerized, she listens and follows and after the book is finished, she insists on going through it once again on her own, taking time to look at the pictures over and over again.
So, here are few tips on how to encourage and nurture this activity which also strengthens the relationship between siblings:
1. Important: the older sibling doesn’t have to be able to read!
2. Offer to read or “read” books the older sibling is familiar with and comfortable with.
3. Choose books that are age-appropriate for the younger sibling – more pictures, less word – at first.
4. At the very beginning this should be a 100% supervised activity as you have to gently show how to approach the reading.
5. Don’t push it – let it be more natural.
6. Most important: take time and read together with your children. You are their first and foremost example.
At the end of the day, you can’t of course guarantee a success and every sibling being absorbed by reading. But you can keep trying and getting back to it in a few days, or a week, or a month. As your children grow older they will appreciate their relationship being nourished by various daily activities and what can be better than a natural and fun activity for both like reading?
Wishing you all lots of happy and joyful moments with your little ones!
Varya @ Creative World of Varya
Varya blogs at “Creative World of Varya” about nurturing creativity, multilingualism, multiculturalism, craft, art, cooking, parenting and character education. She is a mom of 2 (soon to be 3!), an early educator, perinatal fitness and baby massage trainer, currently residing in the South of China with her family.