At Rayz Kidz, we love reading with children for so many reasons. It can be a sensory break in a busy world, as you invite children to snuggle close and open a favorite book. Books create a beautiful bonding experience, as children listen to your calm, sing-song voice as you turn pages together, point at colorful details, and make predictions about what will happen next. Books can show us about the experience and emotions of others, as we see our favorite characters explore the full range of human emotion and experience through their adventures on this planet (and other planets!). When we read with children, we can develop literacy, math, language, cognitive, and social-emotional skills in conjunction with a lifelong love of learning. There are lots of ways to make sure that reading together is an important part of everyday routines that children look forward to.
You can start reading with children in infancy; you might invest in black and white books that allow infant’s developing eyes to make out interesting shapes in lines; board books that allow for rough-handling as children learn how to turn pages smoothly; and books with textures, mirrors, or puppets that allow children to engage their sense of touch and curiosity. Reading with infants is crucial not only for their language development, but also their attention-span, as they engage in shared attention with their trusted caregiver.
As children grow, you can continue to use books as tools for richer learning. In the Rayz Kidz app, we love to highlight specific books that compliment many of our weekly activities. For example, let’s imagine that your children love to pretend to go camping; while they forage, build tents, make pretend fires, and engage in our “Bear Pulley” activity (where you protect your camp food from bears!), you might read Going on a Bear Hunt. This book is great because it is a great way to add spatial learning, movement, and music to your play. Or, when making little “Stick People”, you can also read books that teach us creative ways to use sticks, such as Stick Man and Not a Stick. Or alternatively, we also like to make the book the “center of the show” and design activities to compliment deeper learning about a specific story. We love inviting children to re-enact stories with simple tiny world play-kits, so that they can re-tell the story using their own language, create alternate endings, and see the world through different perspectives. For example, children can act out The Princess and the Pea by making simple, colorful mattresses using sponges and cloth squares and frozen peas. Or, we invite you to make your own Three Little Pigs theater set, using natural materials, homemade bricks, and painted rocks. Here, children can actually feel the sensations of the book come to life—not just the physical weight of the materials that they try to blow down, also they can see what it feels like to step into the shoes of both the wolf and the pigs. So check out the Rayz Kidz app to get started with ideas for bringing more books and joy into your play!