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Rule 18: Read and Be Read To

Aug 15, 2008
Laura Hidalgo is a working mother and wife living in Northern California. She loves to dance and never finishes her daily "to-do" list.

No one has time to "do it all" - especially not us working moms. What is one of the most important bonding activities you can do with your child that is both educational and enjoyable? Reading.

We worry about instilling good habits, values and traditions in our children. Reading is one of life's best habits and has lifelong benefits. Reading to your children provides some quiet relaxing time during the day and encourages them to read - either by mimicking you or "reading" through memorization (depending on their age.) It is good bonding time, and instills early literacy in your children. Reading in front of them shows them that you value reading, and they are more likely to emulate something that they see consistently performed by their family.

Learning to enjoy reading is not something that just "happens;" it needs to be encouraged and supported by the whole family. The ability to read, and to enjoy reading, is a highly undervalued skill. Not being able to read - or not enjoying it, can cripple an individual throughout their life.

Rather than just trusting that it will all happen at school, make it a part of the educational experiences in your daily life. Read cereal boxes in the morning, or a shopping list at the store, or a recipe for dinner. Reading is completely portable. When you are out and about, your children can bring along their favorite books to keep them entertained, whether at their siblings' soccer practices, long car trips, etc., I find that reading a book when waiting for the doctor, especially if it is after work and my son is cranky or hungry, can be a great distraction and keep us all calm (at least until the word "shots" is mentioned).

If you don't have a large selection of books at home, try checking out your local library. I know that many of us have limited time, and adding one more thing to the day can be asking a lot. The resources that the library offers, without having to spend any more money at the bookstore, however, are definitely something that we can all appreciate. To be able to get new books every time they visit can really encourage children to read, and plan out what they will read next. Most libraries offer story times and other activities for families, and librarians are great resources for suggesting books to read for your child's reading level.

In our family, we read at night before our son goes to bed. It gives us a chance to calm down at the end of the day, have a bit of quiet time for all of us to enjoy, and our son gets to have control over what we read. Unfortunately, that control sometimes means that we are reading the Hungry Caterpillar 10 times in a row (on the same night), but we also get to see what he is interested in. He also sees us reading - whether it is the mail, a magazine, or books when he plays in the living room in the evenings and on the weekends.

Being able to direct a child to read gives working mothers a chance to do any multitude of things working moms have to fit in without just resorting to TV as a distraction. You get the peace of mind of knowing that they are learning and enjoying themselves. Plus, it's quiet (for at least a few minutes).

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008.
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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