During the last week of school, I was invited to read with a group of Kindergartners. One of the books my son and I chose was (affiliate links included) I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug by Caroline B. Cooney. The children laughed at all the different hugs included in the story – especially the Horse Hug.
Reading the story, seeing their faces, and listening to their little raised hand shares, reminded me that often in this search engine culture, we as parents are trying to find the “right” words to say with our children when maybe what they really need from us isn’t verbal but instead is a smile, head rub or even a bear hug. Whether it’s hug, clinging to me in a swimming pool, stroking my face, or my very favorites – morning and bedtime snuggles, parents and children need to be actively involved in exchanging physical affection. In the counseling center, we often refer to 5 Love Languages that Gary Chapman describes in his books including physical touch and know that while the importance of this aspect of love varies from person to person, receiving hugs, kisses and snuggles is very important to a child’s sense of security. You can follow this link to learn your love language.
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I love reading with my kids because it allows me to slow down and be close with them. I also am grateful for a seminar that I took when my daughter was in Kindergarten about asking great questions allowing me interact in the story with them. As a previous reading specialist in the public school system, I saw first hand how important reading skills were but having been a single high school teacher, I’d never thought about how develop these skills in my own child as a parent until I attended this seminar lead by Pamela Robberson developingreaders.net.
I often ask when reading with my children:
- What do you like best about the story so far?
- Which person or character would you want to be in the story? What made you choose him or her? (The counselor in me avoids why? because it can lead to the common response of “I don’t know.”)
- Tell me in your own words what you just read after a page or two?
- I’ll point to a picture, comment on it and then ask them about it.
You can also ask them prediction questions?
- What do you think will happen next?
- If you were writing the story, tell me what would be on the next page.
After we finish the book, I’ll ask them:
- What did you like best about the book?
- Would you want to read this book again?
- If you could have made the book better for you, what would you have changed?
Often if the book has a theme that I can tie with a scriptural principle, I will weave it into my questions especially at bedtime. I might ask:
- How loving were people in this story?
- Are there any characters in the story that reminded you of God or his character? Tell me about them.
- How did the people in the story deal with love, fear, anger, being hurt, etc? How does the Bible teach us to deal with these emotions? Can you share a Scripture with me about that?
- Do you like the choices the people made in the story? What verses in the Bible could have helped them with their choices?
I believe when we ask these types of questions, we are modeling for our children discernment when we read which will come in handy as they age and for many of us the struggle begins in guiding the choices they make in their reading so that it reinforces positive values and allow them to become critical thinkers.
When and How Do You Read with Your Kids?
I’d love to know in the comments below. Also, I’m giving away a copy of I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug by Caroline B. Cooney to one of my email subscribers.