When we look back on our childhood, most of us remember a treasured book that we either discovered on our own or read with someone special. I remember sitting on the sofa with my mother reading The Little Engine that Could and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. Time spent reading with your child says “I love you” and “you are special.” Cuddling together and sharing a story stops time for a bit carving out a private moment just for the family.
It is often difficult to find the time to sit and read together, so parents get creative. A friend of mine has her son sit on the kitchen counter and read to her, while she prepares dinner. She pauses to look at the pictures and continues to cook while they discuss the story. Her son loves the attention so much he is one of the top readers in his first grade class.
Another friend has her daughter read to her as whenever they are in the car. She keeps library books stashed in the car, so there is lots of variety. When they run out of books, they tell each other stories.
By adding a few props, activities, and theater to your reading time, you can create memories that will last a lifetime—and instill a deep love for reading. Here are some examples using some beautiful children’s books.
- The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Woods
This is a simple story about a mouse who is trying to hide a strawberry from the big hungry bear. In the end, he shares the strawberry with the reader, so “that is one strawberry the big hungry bear will never get.” The fun comes in all the ways the mouse tries to hide the strawberry. First, he tries to bury it. Next, after covering it with chains and a lock, the mouse begins guarding it. Finally, he disguises the strawberry with a glasses, nose, mustache toy disguise. This is a great book for preschoolers because it has repetitive wording that allows them to participate in the story.
When you read this book bring some magic to it with inexpensive plastic “disguise” glasses with attached nose and mustache. Have some strawberries on hand to guard and share. My two year olds loved wearing their disguises while we shared the strawberries, before the big hungry bear could eat them.
- Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk
A rhyming book, Miss Spider’s Tea Party chronicles Miss Spider’s attempt to find bugs willing to come to tea. The verse is simple and easy for children to understand. This book is a good opportunity to talk to your child about the feelings of being left out and misunderstood. Especially, if they are experiencing school for the first time. The gorgeous pictures really draw in the reader. Be ready for many requests for tea parties after reading this book.
- Chato’s Kitchen is a delightful book by Gary Soto. This multicultural story has a latin rhythm that is mixed with ethnic terms and simple Spanish terms. A house of mice moves into the house next door to Chato, a cool, low-riding cat. He invites the mice to dinner, but they are not to sure about his intentions. The pictures have vibrant colors that match the cultural feeling of the book. The mice finally agree to come to dinner, but they ask to bring a friend. Thinking there would one more mice on the menu, Chato readily agrees. Chato and his friends cooked side dishes all day. When the guests arrived, they brought their guest, as well, a low-riding dog. In the end, they all sat down and had a good meal–without any mice on the menu. After reading this story, we cooked simple tacos and used the Spanish food terms for the next few day. The boys still remember cooking our Mexican dinner.
Here is the book trailor for Chato’s Kitchen.