If you’ve got kids, there’s a good chance you’ve been overwhelmed with all the screen time! Mine are 11 and 8 and our house has all the usual suspects. TVs, iPads, Xbox, and even a Chrome book for school. It can get out of control. And I certainly haven’t mastered the art of balancing it all. In fact, there’s some days they get an obscene amount of screen time because life gets in the way. And even though I know the screens are pretty much here to stay, there’s one screen free activity they still love.
And if you’ve got a library nearby, it’s entirely free.
Even tiny kids love to be read to. It doesn’t matter if it’s a picture book and you’re balancing them on your lap or they’re old enough for chapter books. Grab some books and start expanding their minds. I’ve always been a big fan of reading so it felt normal to expose the kids too. We’ve been reading to them since they were teeny tiny and they both have a love of reading now.
And I know. You will feel like you read the same books a million and one times when they’re little. And you probably will. They’ll find their favorites – I read The Little Engine That Could at least 90 million times. Or so it seems. But, I sure do miss those days. With an 11 year old, I’m grasping at straws to find books that we can read together, but I keep trying and we keep reading.
Why is Reading My Favorite Screen Free Activity?
There are several screen-free activities that you can do with the kiddos, but reading tops my list for so many reasons.
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It’s not electronic.
Especially with an 11-year-old boy that loves his games, it’s great to see him devour a book and ask for more. It seems like so many hours of their day are filled with screens. Smartboards at school, Chrome Books for school assignments and learning, iPads, YouTube and more. And I don’t think all of those things are terrible. But when they add up to hours and hours of screen time each day, it’s nice to have a non-electronic hobby.
Reading is free!
The library is a fantastic free resource for books. Or ask around for friends that can swap books with you. We take frequent trips to the library, especially in the summer. They get the chance to try out a new series or a different subject without spending money. It teaches them responsibility too – they’ve got to keep up with their books and take care of them since we’re borrowing them. Check out yard sales or book sales too. You can score great deals on books without dropping a lot of cash.
Or maybe you have family members that ask what the kids want for birthdays or Christmas – I have an aunt that has always gifted them with amazing books each year. They get new books and that’s one less toy sitting around that will be forgotten soon.
I keep feeling that my kids are getting to the age that they need me less and less. If we can find a favorite book or book series to read together, this gives me a chance to hang out with them and do something together. I think I was the only adult on the planet that had never read the Harry Potter series until my son got a few of the books for his birthday one year. We started reading them together and we were both instantly hooked.
My daughter picked out a fantastic book called The Land of Stories from the book fair one year and we look forward to reading it together. Even if I have to skip a night, she’ll save the bookmark for my place so I can catch up for the next time.
Kids want to be connected to you. We often think we have to go on fancy trips or have expensive hobbies to bond with them, and those things are fabulous, but it’s ok if you just can’t do them. They just want your time. And reading books gives us an easy way to just hang out with each other.
Reading keeps them learning!
Reading can help them with vocabulary, spelling, comprehension and so much more. Once they learn to read on their own, have them read to you for a bit. It can be tough to not correct them immediately. My kids are very different when they don’t understand a word. My son wants me to correct it right away for him, but my daughter wants to sound it out herself. It’s also a great chance for them to read something slightly more advanced. If you’re there to help them, they can understand it.
It can take a while to find something they’re interested in enough to want to sit down and read. Keep trying though. Eventually, they’ll find something they like.
Reading Gives them a Break
Kids are overwhelmed. School is much more demanding at an earlier age than it ever was for me or my husband. They’ve got more homework, projects, after-school activities, playdates, late-night sports – and all of this can get exhausting. Reading is a fantastic way for them to decompress and just get lost in a book and all its characters. It’s a good way to end the day instead of binging on the TV until lights out. If they’re having a rough day, reading can take their minds elsewhere.
11 years of reading have given us plenty of favorites for the kids over the years. And sometimes it’s not at all what I expected! Since I’ve got a boy and a girl, their tastes are pretty different when it comes to books.
Make a plan to hit up the library and just let them browse around and pick out a few things they might like. Find something to read together that’ll keep them interested and spending time with you! If I can find a screen-free activity that we enjoy, I’ll take it!
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