I began reading when I was in kindergarten. I still remember my little friends huddled around me while I read aloud to the class. Those moments fueled my desire for books and reading. I spent my summers at the library, I got lost in chapter books and I spent hours in my grandmother's bedroom reading to her as she would crochet.
Now that I'm a mom, I get to share that passion for reading with my children, and it's one of the most rewarding experiences ever. Both of my kids love books. My son showed an interest early on of letters and sounds. In the evenings we would sit together in his bedroom; he would pick a letter, and we would take turns naming 10 words that started with that letter.
We worked together sounding out words, reciting our vowels, making up little games. . .that made learning fun. When he was in Kindergarten, my husband and I sat down with his teacher for conferences and she just looked at us from behind the little desk we were meeting at.
"Dane's scores are off the charts," she said. My heart started beating faster. "We're all wondering what you're doing with him at home." I tried to keep my eyes from welling up with tears. I was so happy inside. Honestly, I couldn't really tell her what we were doing. We read every night, we play word games, we make up stories. To me, these were just routine activities. What I learned, however, is that these things I considered to be "routine and natural" are really not the norm.
In honor of National Reading Month, I want to encourage every parent to read to their children from day one. Not only will it build your child's vocabulary, it will help them problem solve, it will strengthen their imagination and it will give them confidence to take the next step and start reading on their own.
Dane is reading chapter books now, and every night, as a family, we set aside time for reading. I usually read a book that Cora (our 3-year-old) picks out and Dane reads a chapter or two out of one of his books. It's rewarding to see his progress and, more than anything, I want to see him continue to advance while on summer break. . .which is quickly approaching.
So, what can we do to continue to encourage our children to read over summer vacation? I've been struggling with this for months, let me tell you. Why? Well, the bookshelves in the kids' rooms are overflowing, but yet, they're always looking for something new to read. I know, I know, go to the library, right? We certainly would go more often if it were a bit closer to our home, and running to the bookstore to purchase brand new books isn't the easiest on the pocketbook, if you know what I mean.
The good news is, I found an awesome solution. . .the Kindle e-reader. It's the perfect gift for kids starting to read chapter books, and is designed to make great books as accessible and engaging as possible.
Better yet, Amazon offers a wonderful service called Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. It's an all-in-one subscription starting at $2.99 per month that offers unlimited access to hundreds of hand-picked chapter books and early readers, all curated for age-appropriateness, so parents don’t have to spend time and money guessing what their kids will enjoy.
It includes favorites, such as the Harry Potter series, The Borrowers by Mary Norton, Big Nate and Friends by Lincoln Peirce, and Newberry Medal and Honor winning books such as The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.
I don't have to worry about adding another book to the bookshelf, because these books are all electronic and don't take up any space at all! If you already have a Fire tablet or Amazon Fire TV, FreeTime Unlimited gives you access to over 5,000 kid-friendly books, games, educational apps, movies, and TV shows. Now, how cool is that?
Well, Dane thinks it's REALLY cool and so does his little sister. He's currently in the middle of reading the My Monster Farts series by Kate Clary. Typical, boy. 🙂 He and his sister sit together and Dane reads chapter after chapter with Cora listening and laughing right along.
I don't have to worry about Dane getting bored. He's always adding new books to his "library" and can also download books from our local library in town right on his Kindle, which gives him access to THOUSANDS MORE books. Dane takes the Kindle in the car and outside with him to read on our front door step. I love that no matter how bright it is outside, the Kindle is always easy to read - with no glare whatsoever.
Beyond just having thousands of books at their fingertips, with the Kindle, kids can:
- Look up definitions as they read to build their vocabulary and increase the font size for easier reading.
- Use features like Vocabulary Builder – which stores words that kids look up and allows them to quiz themselves with flash cards – or Word Wise, which provides short and simple definitions above difficult words as they’re reading along.
If you want to continue to nurture your child's passion for reading this summer, check out the Kindle. In my opinion, $79 is a small price to pay for the value it provides. Just between you and me, I'm a little jealous of Dane's Kindle. In fact, I think I know what I may be wishing for come Mother's Day. 😉
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.