“Reading Begins at Home,” Ensign, July 1995, 72–73
Every child loves a bedtime story. For them this time-honored childhood ritual never loses its charm and importance. For parents, however, a variety of reasons—from fatigue to unfamiliarity with children’s books—may seem to outweigh the rewards of this activity. Following are some ways to make reading time more enjoyable—for your children and for you.
Discover good books. High-quality children’s literature isn’t only for children; adults enjoy it also. And remember that the scriptures are the greatest children’s literature.
Don’t feel compelled to finish a book if your child is bored or fidgety. Find a book that will hold his or her interest.
Be a little silly! Children love ridiculous voices, sound effects, and melodrama, so don’t be afraid to have fun.
Don’t worry if your children interrupt with questions. This can be a wonderful way to initiate discussions and can provide many quiet, unrushed teaching moments.
Follow up with extras. If you’re reading Charlotte’s Web, look for spider webs around your yard. Cook the bean porridge mentioned in Little House on the Prairie. Study maps or globes to find the places mentioned in a book.
Read slowly enough that story scenes can form in your little listeners’ minds.
Don’t set age limits on reading to children. Babies as young as six months can enjoy picture books, and children who can read by themselves still love to listen to stories.
Have a regular reading time each day. It won’t take long before reading together will become a habit.
Dramatize stories in family home evening. Children love to act out stories, and doing so gives new depth to reading. Try this with scripture stories, too.
Don’t force your child to listen. If a child is tired or simply not in the mood for story time, don’t push. Let your children associate reading with positive, happy times.
Though it can be hard to schedule reading time between soccer practice, piano lessons, and homework, doing so gives definite payoffs. Reading together becomes a meaningful time for parent-child discussions. Children can learn values like integrity, courage, and loyalty from stories and gain memories that last long after the story has ended. Reading time is also a natural opportunity to read scriptures together. Besides all these reasons, reading together is fun!
Curl up tonight with your children and a good book, and you’ll remember why this childhood ritual is still as wonderful today as it was when you were young.—Lisa Ray Turner, Littleton, Colorado