The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: 3 Tips for Reading With Your Keiki

Story time with kids supports their development and reading skills.

Medically reviewed in February 2022

For Jennifer Domaloan, reading aloud to her daughter is a gift that keeps on giving.

In the beginning, it was a great way to carry on a happy tradition. "I grew up in a house where my mom read to us every night and took us to the library every week," Domaloan says. "She did the voices of the characters and everything."

Domaloan established a similar reading routine with her daughter, Kayla, which she says helps the entire family stay connected. Reading also helps her daughter learn and grow, especially in school. "In the last year, she’s progressed to the point that she can read almost anything and can read to us if she wants to," Domaloan says.  

Kayla starts first grade in the fall. She enjoys exploring new books and encourages her parents to read with her. She’s even started to read everything from street signs to nutrition labels at the grocery store. "It’s changed the way she approaches the world," Domaloan says.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), reading books aloud is one of the best ways to help children learn how to read. A new study published by the AAP shows that reading aloud can even reduce hyperactivity and attention problems in children.

Want to make reading part of your family’s routine? Check out these tips from librarians who work in the children’s section of the Hawaii State Library.

Start small 
As librarians, we’ll read a book from start to finish to get kids used to the idea of a story time routine. At home, it's fine to take a break and come back to the book later. You can even break things up with a song or stretch.

Start early 
Read to your children from the very beginning, before they can even talk or walk, and make it a routine. Reading to children supports their development and encourages them to become lifelong readers. We want children of all ages and abilities to find joy in reading instead of it feeling like a chore.

Make it special
We tell parents to try silly stories, which children love. It may feel out of your comfort zone, but getting your kids to sit still and read or listen to you is the most important thing. We always recommend that parents find books that their kids find magic in, regardless of intended audience age.

This content originally appeared on Well-Being Hawaii.

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