I love books! I have always loved books! My earliest memories as a child include reading . . .
- Reading an entire book in one night because I couldn’t put it down
- Reading on the bus, and in the car, and any time I was waiting . . . for anything
- Reading a book while folding clothes, while doing the dishes . . . you get the idea
I didn’t travel further than a state or 2 away from my home town until I was 18, and not even that very often; but through books I had traveled the world long before I actually got on an airplane and made the physical trip.
We could spend hours and hours, and write volumes and volumes about the benefits of reading: developing literacy skills, increased vocabulary, preparing for kindergarten and school, improved academic performance, stronger ability to process information, health benefits like lower stress and better sleep . . . all ultimately leading to increased earning potential.
There is another part of the conversation, however, that shouldn’t be overlooked: the benefits of reading together as a family. We all know that it’s important to read to small children when they can’t read for themselves, but what about when a child can read on his own? Is there any reason to continue reading together? Yes!
Reading together improves relationships, and stronger relationships result in stronger families. When we read together:
- It helps families get to know each other: likes and dislikes, interests, dreams
- It helps family members learn empathy and patience and sharing as we take turns choosing the genre and the topic
- It enhances the way we use our imaginations as we are exposed to each other’s imaginations and creativity
- Reading helps build a child’s ability to socialize appropriately since people who read have an increased ability to empathize with others.
- Reading allows kids to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and gain a perspective of what the characters in the book are experiencing. Greater empathy results in the development of “soft skills” which in turn help kids build and maintain better relationships.
- Books with characters in seemingly impossible situations feature critical life skills such as determination, ingenuity, and resilience. Even though children know that animals and trains can’t really talk or a gingerbread man could never actually run away, a well written story can take kids on an imaginative journey that helps them develop life skills similar to those portrayed in the story.
- Most importantly, reading together as a family facilitates family bonding.
- It opens the door for important conversations to take place as we reflect on what we have read and can lead to important discussions about topics that impact the family.
Because reading together is such a powerful way to strengthen families and build resilience, the Summer Passport Program has multiple Adventures that incorporate reading and literacy activities:
- My favorite Adventure of the entire program is Bridge Distance sponsored by Readeo.com. I have used this free resource to read with my grandchildren as close as my own living room couch and as far away as Ithaca, New York. In just a short time it has significantly improvedour relationship. This opportunity to read weekly with my grandchildren has opened the door to a closer relationship and better understanding of each other, and having a library of thousands of books without taking up space in the house allows us to have the right book for every topic the kids want to read.
- The Summer Reading Adventure spotlights a variety of reading programs available this summer including the summer reading program at your local library.
- The Same, Different Adventure provides a variety of fun literacy ideas based around homophones and incorporates another key family activity - games.
- The Relax in a Hammock Adventure combines the lazy days of summer with the peacefulness of snuggling up with a child and a good book to create the ultimate summer memory.
There are as many different ways to incorporate reading together into your family lifestyle as there are families. If you need some ideas on getting started, or want to add something new to your current reading plan, check out the Family Reading Adventure from the Discovery Family Adventures Program.
Most importantly, just do it! Give your children the gift of your time, and give yourself the “gift of relationship” that will keep on giving for a lifetime.
To find ways that other families have used these Summer Passport Adventures with their families, and to share your experiences so other parents can learn from you, connect with your local Discover Family Fun community.
Sharilee Griffiths is the Director of My Discovery Destination! and the Summer Passport Program.
To learn more about the the Summer Passport Program or to register for free, just click here.