Story time is a favourite routine for many families. Many of us can fondly remember mom or dad opening picture books and regaling us with tales about magical places and funny characters as we cuddled together in a comfy chair or bed. Reading to our kids is a great way to bond, but it is also an important contributor to overall brain development.

ABC Literacy Canada states that children who are encouraged to read at home have a better chance of becoming fully literate adults, and being read aloud to helps children learn listening, vocabulary and language skills, as well as develop imagination and creativity.

Thankfully, even in our tech-heavy times, good old-fashioned books remain popular among Canadian families. A 2010 study conducted by Leger Marketing pleasantly concluded that 88 per cent of Canadian parents read to their kids at bedtime. But, a recent US-based survey conducted by Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) found that only one in three families read to their kids daily while TV, video games, and iPads before bed is increasing. As our lives become busier and modern technology advances, it’s necessary to encourage reading and ensure books remain a part of our kids’ everyday lives.

Here are some tips to encourage children to embrace books and maintain a love of reading throughout their lives:

Start Early – It’s never too early to start reading to your kids. According to the Canadian Paediatrics Society, even very young babies love picture books and benefit, in terms of language development and listening skills, from hearing their parents speak out loud.

Make it a Routine – A routine, such as bedtime stories, gives kids something to look forward to and brings the family together after a long day. Enjoying such a relaxing activity also promotes healthy sleep habits.

Make it Fun – Story time doesn’t have to mean sitting down and reading the words on the page. Act out the scenes, make up different endings, and encourage the kids to join in with their own renditions.

Incorporate an Activity – Do an activity together that relates to your little one’s favourite book. For example, turn The Very Hungry Caterpillar into a fun craft like this one.

Make Books Easily Available – Make books more easily reached than the TV remote or computer. Keep a bookshelf filled with your kids’ favourite stories in their bedroom, playroom and/or living room so they can access them at any time.

Visit the Library – Increase their interest in reading by regularly taking the kids to the library and allowing them to select topics that they personally love whether it’s about superheroes, animals or princesses.

Set a Good Example – Rather than relaxing in front of the television or picking up your laptop during downtime, pick up a book. Allowing your kids to see you enjoy your own books will encourage them to follow along.

Encouraging your kids to love reading is one of the best gifts you can give them as parents.

View some of our favourite kids books by visiting our Kids Books Board on our Pinterest page!