What’s a parent to do when one child wants to read about bugs and the other is interested in ballerinas? And how do you keep the peace when your children are at different reading levels? The first and most critical step when preventing book battles is selecting the right books. Consider these tips as you try to find the right books for two.
Choose topics that appeal to both your children. Look for interesting books that both children can “read,” such as “Blue Hat, Green Hat” by Sandra Boynton or “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” by Eileen Christelow. Preschoolers can count and name colors, while toddlers will be enchanted by the colorful illustrations. Moreover, the catchy beat and refrain will help both your children become aware of the sounds of the language, while laying the foundation for reading and writing development.
Consider the complexity of the story as well as the topic. If your older child thinks a book is too easy, he may lose interest. At the same time, your younger child can become frustrated with long, complex books. Try to select books that “stretch” your younger child, while appealing to your older child. You may even be surprised by how attentive your younger child can be.
Choose books that have characteristics of good read-alouds. Good read-alouds can appeal to children of different ages. Good read-aloud books have action, strong characters, interesting dialogue, and a clear story line. Colorful illustrations can also help your children follow what’s happening. Folktales and fairytales with colorful illustrations can enchant young and older children alike. Wordless books are also good choices because children of all ages can read the “story” in their own way.
Read different kinds of books together. While your children may prefer certain kinds of books, try to expose them to different genres, or kinds of books, including poetry, non-fiction, and stories. Different kinds of books will help broaden their knowledge of the world and increase their vocabulary. Involve your children in taking turns choosing the books for the day.
Establish a special time for family read-alouds every day. One of the most effective ways to encourage a lifelong love of reading is to make reading part of your family’s regular routine. Reading daily will increase your children’s vocabulary, their knowledge of the world and their understanding of stories.
Find time to read one-on-one with your children, too. Family read-alouds can help your children learn more about books, about sharing and about each other. But children also need some alone time with you, when they can choose the books they like, ask as many questions as they like, and read aloud themselves.
More on Reading to Two: