“One more please amma.”

“I said just two...its late already.”

“last one amma...nejamma last.”

I know we have such "reaching a compromise (or not)" exchanges several times a day. But just this once I am all for indulging my 3.5 year old daughter. Cause its bedtime and we are reading books. A ritual that has been on for a couple of years now. Its the most fulfilling part of my day. My husband calls it the stress buster.

The other day she was having a meltdown and wanting to pacify things I said, “Lets read. Pick a book”. She thought for a minute and said let’s read the “moods” book. (Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day - Jamie Lee Curtis). After reading it I asked what her current mood was. Quick came the reply – “I feel two things – angry and sad”. The pout was still there. But we had discussed the whole episode without invoking the details. And the book has other moods too. Soon we were pretending to be silly lying on the bed with our heads hanging down and giggling. Now where did that pout go? Magic is in the air…the magic of books!

Below are some ideas and tips from my reading “experiments” with my daughters.

Let kids experience books

When my girl was less than 2 she would spread books all around the living room and go around reading each at its place. After which they would all get stacked neatly. Minutes later they would be back on the floor again.

My younger one is now about 7 months old and she is in the “everything goes into the mouth” phase. So our reading time gets disrupted many a time for lack of “edible books”! She loves holding and playing with them rather than listening.

Books should not be thrust on them. Books should be an experience. And each child will put its own spin on it.

Never judge a book by its cover

You must have heard that before. And its quite true when it comes to picking books for kids. Sometimes I would dismiss a book as being too small or quite passive. But then my little bookworm would pick just that one from a pile and even like it to bits.

Every book is worth reading for you never know what might spark the little minds.

Make reading a ritual

Set aside a time for reading. It should be something that you both enjoy and look forward to. You could read after returning from work, sort of unwind from your chaotic day.

We typically read at bedtime. 2-3 books before going to bed. Sometimes after I am done with the reading my girl “reads” to me.

Bonding

Now reading is about more than just books. It’s a perfect time to bond and converse with your kids. You can get them to open up about a lot of things taking a cue from the story you are reading.

And if nothing else its great family time – with no TV, no ipads, no phones.

When you look back years later, these will be some your most cherished “together” moments.

Indulge the little ones

For some time my girl would bring books to start her day along with her morning milk. She would drink from her sippy cup as I read book after book.

And there were occasions where I would end up reading the same book 10 times a day.

Anytime they ask to read a book, indulge them.

Make books accessible

Have books lying around the house where children can see them.  You can put their books in a basket and leave them in a corner of the living room or near their beds. And you will be surprised how much the tiny tots love to hold a book and pretend to read on their own.

Be caught reading yourself

When children see others in the family reading they would want to pick a book too. My daughter would get excited when her mom and dad are reading a book. She would bring hers and sit next to us.

 And many times I would catch her reading my book. She would ask me how I can read a book without pictures!

Apply age appropriate techniques

There are several resources available on the web on reading to kids in each age group. Have listed some of them in the FAQ section. It’s a learn as you go process for us parents so don’t expect to know it all.

Every book might not fit the age bracket accurately. Snip away portions or replace them with suitable alternatives as you read. Hansel and Gretel do not have an evil stepmother…they got lost cause their dad could not find them in the dark forest!

Enjoy reading the book yourself

After reading children’s books for over 2 years I like them better than adult books (the one without pictures…yuck!). Be it the concepts, the stories, the illustrations or the rhyming verses its an uplifting experience. When you enjoy the book it shows and the kids would join in the fun too.

Sometimes I think there are no rules to reading with your kids. What matters is the time you invest in their lives - a time filled with books, laughter and love.