Celebrating International Literacy Day by sparking the joy of reading starting with your kids and their nightly regimen
Happy International Literacy Day (ILD), Hearth Fam! Before we get into reading and your child’s bedtime routine, we wanted to share the “why” behind today. Since 1967, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been celebrating ILD as a means to spotlight the importance of literacy among all, as a matter of dignity and human rights. We wholeheartedly agree and are excited to honor the day along with them. This year’s theme is “Literacy for a Human Centered Recovery: Narrowing the Digital Divide.” Reading has always been important, but the pandemic has made us realize this even more-so.
The first way you can change the narrative around literacy and ignite a love of reading in our culture is at home. Schooling can often turn reading into a chore, so sparking the love of reading early in your kids can ensure a healthy habit.
Here are 4 ways to help your kids fall in love with reading:
- Start Young. Get your kids started reading at an early age and it will become one of their norms. The earlier you introduce it, the better it will be - both habit and enjoyment-wise.
- Read Aloud. Sure you eventually learn to read silently, but reading aloud to your kids even before they can truly comprehend it does wonders for them. This can later turn into both of you reading aloud!
- Join Libraries. Not only are they free and provide access to a myriad of books, but they also offer programs. Typically during the summer local libraries will have reading clubs to join that offer prizes and such. If your child doesn’t enjoy reading, this might help them find their passion for it as it becomes more of a game than “something mom asks you to do”.
- Try Genres. Expose your kids to all different kinds of books. This is not only adventurous, but helps develop their imagination. Additionally it may help them fall in love with reading. If they don't currently like it, they just may not have found their kind of book yet.
Now that they are on track to love reading, here are 4 ideas to implement reading into your child’s bedtime routine:
- Start Young. Not a typo! A repeat tip with a slightly different meaning. Start reading to them before bed when they are babies and it will become second nature as part of their routine later on.
- Set a time. Even if you do start your kids young with reading, we get it. Life happens. Ultimately you should schedule time for it to ensure it occurs. Make reading a part of your child’s bedtime routine by using Hearth’s Routine Builder! Using the feature not only brings visibility to it, but helps create a habit.
- Let Them Choose. Let them pick the books so they are invested. If they keep picking the same book and don’t venture out, maybe create a two book policy. They choose one and you pick one.
- Read to Sleep. Break a “scrolling devices” habit before it even begins. By including reading in your child’s “wind down routine” this will help them cling to this habit in later years. Not to mention that it is calming and doesn’t involve blue light.
Bonus: We love this tip from Scholastic. Let your kids stay up “late” reading as a treat.You can even start the bedtime routine earlier on these days which makes it a normal bedtime with high incentives. Win-win! While you’re using your Hearth to schedule reading before bed, remind your kids they don’t have to limit reading to nighttime. You can use Hearth Display to track “good behavior”. Seeing that visibly on Hearth can create consistency due to trackability and visibility.
Keep in mind that books don’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Libraries are free. If you can’t make the trek there, check out Libby. It is a free app that connects to your local library. You can check out books to read on your phone (or Kindle) and they also have audio books. Listening to books is really fun in general, plus if you have the book, you can let the audio read and just hold the book with your kids.
Don’t forget to give back to your community, especially around literacy. You can participate in book donations and drives or start a “take a book, leave a book” free library. Even virtually during the pandemic, schools are looking for volunteers to read and help listen to kids read after school. Give back where you can and donate when you can. This is such an important lesson for kids to learn and it will impact them for the rest of their lives.