Read a Real Book to Your Kids at Bedtime

Originally published February 2013

Want to raise a smarter kid? Try reading to them at bedtime. All I ask is that you keep it real.

It should pretty much go without saying that reading to your kid is a good thing—a smart thing, even. There’s even scientific proof that reading in an interactive manner can boost your kid’s IQ.

But cuddling up with a book under the covers, next to a freshly bathed, smells-like-Johnson’s, damp hair wee wot? Sharing a real book, turning the pages together, taking turns reading and admiring the fan-freaking-tastic art that often keeps the words company? That remains one of the best memories I have of my kids when they were younger, and something I still try to sneak in with my now 11-year-old.

Clearly, I think reading is a big deal. I write a book blog. Goes with the territory. Books have been an important part of my life since the time I was a tot. That picture at the top? Me and my Gram, a former kindergarten teacher (who just celebrated her 99th and still rockin’ it, by the way.) Books are a part of practically every childhood memory I have, from Laura Ingalls to Judy Blume to the batshit crazy that’s VC Andrews.

More importantly, they’re a tangible part of my past—something I can touch, feel, hold and reconnect with—which is perhaps why I am having such a hard time embracing the digital age. Somehow, looking at the cover of “Flowers In The Attic” on my iPad doesn’t evoke the same feeling as when I hold a worn out, thumbed through paperback. And pulling out my entire Little House and Nancy Drew collections for my daughter’s bookshelf? Heaven in a musty box.

Beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose—I’m happy when anyone reads, period. And if they’re reading to their kids from a Kindle, so be it. But just so you know, kids really do prefer print. And establishing that relationship with a book—something they can read, cherish, share … it all starts with those cuddly moments with you. Kids can’t learn to love to read unless they see it modeled for them. And by the way? Reading reduces stress—another form of free therapy!

Thanks Gram, Mom, Dad and anyone who ever read out loud to me. You did good.

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