Skip to Content

How to Teach Your Grandkids a Love of Books

In this podcast, we talk about how to share books with your grandkids. Helping them develop a love of reading, and bond with them as you read all kinds of stories to them and with them.

Another way to listen is to subscribe to one of these services:
Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts

Disclaimer: Some of our articles may contain affiliate links; when you click on these you can purchase a product or service at no extra cost to you, but doing so provides us some income to run the blog, and we thank you.

Full Transcript of Podcast

Jim 0:04
welcome to our weekly podcast, modern grandparenting, where we discuss issues that grandparents must deal with, in this changing world, for maintaining the best relationships with both our children and grandchildren, to giving you all kinds of ideas of what to do all year long, and hopefully making memories that will last a lifetime. In this episode, we’re talking about reading with your grandkids, how to help them develop that lifelong love for reading.

Corinne 0:28
It’s not like it used to be is it? When we were growing up? You, there were as many choices for keeping you from getting bored or whatever, or on a rainy day. But now you’ve got video games, and you’ve got tons of TV. And I mean, so much TV that you don’t even know what to do with it. And there’s just so many things to take you away from reading, unfortunately, I think because reading is one of my great loves.

Jim 0:59
I agree. And it should be everybody’s great love. And it’s you know, it’s never too early. And it’s never too late to start nurturing that love for reading. And I don’t

Corinne 1:09
think that it’s a grandparents job. But I mean, depending on your role in the family, but overall, it’s not the grandparents job to teach the kids to read, right. But it’s but what a great thing to help you engender that love of reading the adventures that you get to go on the cookbooks that you can peruse in ages case. I mean, I can see him reading, you know, manuals on how to wire airplanes or something. Whatever is interesting, you can find it out there and a good book.

Jim 1:45
Well, according to Gary Paulson, who write who wrote one of my favorite young adult fiction books, hatchet. He says a book is a friend. You can never have too many.

Corinne 1:57
Well, Gary Paulson’s also one of my you know, he died recently? Yeah, just a few weeks ago. It’s very sad. And he was one of my favorite authors as well. He, for young boys especially. He was a good person, a good author, and that keeps boys entertained, because I think sometimes it feels like boys are harder to find good books for Gary possible is great. But I tended to read a lot of books that were good for boys in my classroom because that would the girls loved him to girls or just seemed to be much easier going I guess about it. I don’t know what. But my favorite book from Gary Paulson was called Harrison me. And I read it every year to my middle, my fifth grade sixth graders. It was a little bit, you know, had a few swear words in it. Oh my I’d have to beep. Or

Jim 2:54
they really swear words or what the kids would call. They were really

Corinne 2:57
swell. Wow. Because this was this young, brash young man who had only a father. His mother had died when he was very young. And his dad sent him off to the farm, a troubled youth. He really had a troubled youth. He just was kind of a loner. And his father didn’t have much time for him. So he set him off on the farm with his family every summer. And there, that’s where the kid was, like, totally wild, and was quite the influence on him. It’s such a great book. If you get a chance to read it with your grandson or granddaughter really. I say go for it. It is such a good Coming of Age book. Yeah, listen,

Jim 3:40
I always read hatchet to my students. Again, sixth grade, seventh grade. I think that’s pretty much Gary Paulson’s sweet spot for readers or that middle school age. And it was a favorite with the boys of course. But surprisingly, it was a favorite with the girls as well. Every year.

Corinne 4:00
Everybody likes a good survival story. Of course. Yeah. Anyway, as we said, it’s not really grandparents job to teach reading. But I think that as we grew up reading books, and really enjoying reading, that is such a wonderful thing to pass down. And when is the better time to start that when you’ve got this little tiny baby and you’re gonna hold him and cuddle them anyway, right? In order for them to hear your voice. You can just read and read and it doesn’t matter what you read. You can go out and get baby books, baby books are awesome. I love books. But you can also read you know, your magazine

Jim 4:38
that care. at that young age, they don’t care they really just want to hear your voice. And you know if you have that sing song quality to it, or rising and dropping in flexion and just reading with interest. I like I was reading one of my Patrick O’Brien books out loud to AJ one day and trust me that is not a children’s book. In fact, most people I know, most adults, I know find it a little bit boring. But I love it. And he just loved hearing my voice. Now, is it a story he wants me to read to him over and over again, as he’s getting older? Of course not. But that that time of reading is, like you said, it’s not just about Teach, but it is our job if you want to put it to build a bond, and, and to be a role model. That’s right. So that’s one thing you can do. And reading together, really, I think, can build a strong bond, like you said, you have that time where you together, it’s just the two of you reading aloud, or if they’re older, you know, reading silently next to each other, and maybe talking about the books later.

Corinne 5:51
But you know, what I think is interesting. People think that kids get to a certain age, and they’re not interested in being read to you anymore. That is so wrong. Remember, when our girls were in high school, and you guys used to be in the car, and you would read, someone was reading aloud for the whole journey to the sure

Jim 6:11
that we could do audio books. And we did do audio books. But whenever a brand new book came out, especially like when the Harry Potter series is coming out one at a time, whenever a new book in the series comes out. It’s not on audio books for a little while, but everybody wants to read it. So that was a perfect time for it. And just one person reads aloud. It’s funny, because when one person started the reading of a book, you pretty much had to stick with the same reader after that. And I found that in my classrooms as well, if I had been going through a read aloud, and then I had a sub come in a day for a day. And I left it on the notes for them to continue the read aloud. The next day I would hear it from my students. Oh, so and so they didn’t read it, right? They didn’t use this person’s voice, right? That person’s voice right.

Corinne 7:01
I got an example of that I was reading Harry Potter to one of my classes. This is years and years ago when it first came out. And I had no idea the movies weren’t out yet. It was way, way early in the game, I had no idea how to pronounce her Miami’s name. I called her Hermione. I mean, I guess that was close. Who knows?

Jim 7:23
I mean, no one there was no he said in my mind.

Corinne 7:27
Here, I started reading to my kids. And I called her we own this and her me on that. So we I have a sub one day. And of course, she knew all my luck. And so she said Hermione, and I gave back and they all complained. She doesn’t even know what her name is. Right guys, but it doesn’t matter.

Jim 7:50
Hermione is a much prettier knee. It was fabulous. So I just kind of got in the habit of not leaving a continuing read aloud for a substitute. Because they just kind of broke this spell for them. And that’s kind of what reading should be. It should be kind of like casting a spell. It’s like magic time.

Corinne 8:12
But so that I guess it’s kind of my point. It is kind of magical. To have someone read to you. Yeah. And we read to each other. And like, we might read an article that we see somewhere or whatever. But but to actually read a book, which we have done as well. I just think that you you have this something that you share. And what’s great about it is let’s let’s take Jerry Paulson again. My Harris had me where he’s out on the farm. So every time you go out to a pumpkin patch, or whatever, you know, you can conjure up those images from the book that you read about and talk about them. One of the one of the funniest things is there’s a rooster in the book that attacks you if you get anywhere near him. So I mean, I can just see with everybody who raises chickens around here having that kind of conversation too. Would you ever have a rooster? Are they dangerous? You know, that kind of thing? It’s just so much fun to have something that you share?

Jim 9:10
Yeah. Okay, so we talked about building a bond, and starting young, if you are lucky enough to do that. And you can start reading with your grandchild as a baby, they’re gonna grew up with it. And, you know, chances are, they’re gonna love it quite a bit more. But that’s not always the case you might be getting a little bit later start on it. You still want to build that love. It’s a little bit harder if you have a reluctant reader to build the love for reading, but it’s not impossible. And I think for me, the key was always finding the right book for the reader. I had a librarian once tell me that there are there’s no such thing. As a person that doesn’t like to read. There’s only people who have and found the right book yet?

Corinne 10:01
Well, I like that. Yeah. That was that. Do you remember? I want to say, maybe it was Marianne. i Yes, it

Jim 10:09
was Marianne, a librarian that taught with us in Japan. Yes. Anyway, so, especially with those reluctant readers, finding the right book is I think the key, and it might take a lot of effort. And I think where a lot of people go wrong is they think that those reluctant readers need to be reading, you know, real books.

Corinne 10:35
Now, but

Jim 10:36
really, you just want them to be with any type of reading material, anything, print that they hold in their hand, comics, graphic novels, you know, get them started, they will eventually get the idea of the story, and that you’re building the story through the words of the author in your own mind. And that’s where the magic starts.

Corinne 11:01
Luckily, the pandemic is, let’s hope binding down knock on wood. And libraries are open back up. And they have, they’ll be opening their story hours and things like that again. But there are so many ways to find good books, you can look online, of course, at any of the list, there’s awards for books, child authors, baby children, authors, to young adult authors, librarians are a good place to ask, you can ask the teacher and the independent on the age of the child. I mean, they should be able to tell you what to do. Like, we know what AJ likes. He likes airplanes and pumpkins, and he likes apples and cooking and he likes, you know, things that move and things that dig.

Jim 11:44
And I guarantee you there’s books, covering all of those things in the library. Available online to purchase. Yeah, bookstores are still there. They’re still bookstores out there.

Corinne 11:56
And you know what? Who cares if all they read is one topic? Yeah. It doesn’t matter.

Jim 12:02
They’re reading, it’ll eventually branch out into something more.

Corinne 12:06
Exactly. I think it’s really important, too, that, you know, we’ve been reading to AJ since he was very tiny, tiny, teeny, teeny baby, his parents wrote to him too, but I’m just talking about us as grandparents, right. We didn’t come on the scene until he was four months old. And we didn’t actually started taking care of him full time until he was what, six months old maybe. And so right about six months old, we established a routine. And he comes here at Oh, dark 30 in the morning. So there’s, it’s the perfect time. Yeah, it’s the perfect time to just snuggle up with his little blanket on the couch. With a couple of books. He’s got his favorites. And we’ll read those. And but he likes new books, too. We I’m in there. We’re always introducing new books to him. But if he’s going to choose a book, he’s more than likely going to choose out of a couple of books that are not as familiar books. Yeah. Because little boys and girls, little toddlers like to repeat. Repeat

Jim 13:04
repeats. And yeah, that’s one of our reading tips. Be ready for the repeat, read? And don’t ever make it seem like it’s a chore or are you sure you want to read that one? Again? No, don’t

Corinne 13:18
give her a lot of times they’d like the wind said sometimes you’re like, oh, yeah, this is not my

Jim 13:23
fresh read for you every time for those read alouds. It has to be.

Corinne 13:29
You mean you have to act like it?

Jim 13:31
That’s what I’m saying. Okay, yeah, it shouldn’t be a fresh read, you should have read it to yourself beforehand. So you understand what it is you’re reading? Well, but anyway, back to the choosing good books. I found a website. Well, I didn’t find the website. I knew about it, the American Library Association, but I found a really good page on their site that has all kinds of lists for young for young readers for young adult readers, you know, best reads for reluctant readers, best reads for boys best reads for girls best reads for toddlers, all kinds of different things. And they’re award winners. And they’re pretty much going to be a hit. But I

Corinne 14:17
would caution you that that’s just a starting place. Yeah. Because I think it’s important for children to read all kinds of literature. And that means if you’re a little girl, then you can read more things than about ballet and best friends. You can read about like we talked about hatchet surviving the Alaska art, you know, Arctic and being lost in the woods. Think all kinds of stuff. I mean, that’s what makes books so fun because you’re having an adventure, right?

Jim 14:49
Yeah. And you don’t have to follow. Follow what you’re told to do. You can follow any adventure you want. Follow any story you want, whatever your interests are. So we do have that time in the morning that we have set aside, it’s a quiet time, it will usually last for about 20 minutes, he will just sit with me or with you. And we’ll just read. And I’ll read him the book, I’ll read a book to myself, while he looks at his book. He’s not a reader yet. But he

Corinne 15:24
turned the pages.

Jim 15:26
He already knows the mechanics of books, he knows which ways a right side up and when it’s upside down. And that’s, I mean, that’s something that’s something that’s a lot,

Corinne 15:35
I mean, for an 18 month old,

Jim 15:37
right. And he’s just comfortable with a book. And that’s, you know, being able to start that early. That’s super critical.

Corinne 15:46
He has gotten because he’s a toddler. And he has gotten a little rambunctious sometimes. And so he might have a tear. And we just talked about and saying, oh, no, that an hour, you would need to fix it, and we need to calm down. But we found that if he’s in more of an excited state, that’s when we give him his pacifier. And if you give him his pacifier in return, it’s just kind of a signal for him to know that it’s time for reading, it’s also time to be quiet. So that works, too. All kids don’t need that all the time needed all the time, either. But it’s just a good idea to keep in mind that it’s okay to use the pacifier, then it’s a quiet time, it’s time to be gentle. And listen.

Jim 16:33
So then we also take time, before nap, oh, after that, even after that he likes to wake up and just kind of relax for a little bit. But anytime that we’re reading like that, we set aside time we set aside that time, with hopefully no distractions, no screens, the TV’s not on, the phone’s not going to be dinging or anywhere nearby. And it’s just really quiet. So that’s one thing we recommend, try to set aside at least 20 minutes of reading time each day, where you don’t have any screens, no distractions. And depending on the age of your grandchild, you know, lots of options for reading, like we said, not just books, comics, magazines, graphic novels, cookbooks, I love looking through cookbooks. I still do. Newspapers, I suppose if you have the rewiring manual for an A 380, Airbus that would be just as good as well. Doesn’t really matter what it is maps. Yeah, anything. So have that around during that reading time.

Corinne 17:42
Now, as the child gets older, so you’re talking, you know, maybe starting school age to fourth grade or so they’re just learning to read. This is a really important time that really, adults just need to be happy about what they’re doing. And give them every chance they can to read and read and read some more

Jim 18:04
not to read push that exact technical passages or something that’s age appropriate.

Corinne 18:12
Oh, yeah, I

Jim 18:13
mean, reading level of those are important things, too. But we’re just talking about building the love of reading. And it can be anything.

Corinne 18:20
Exactly. It can be coloring books that have a sentence at the bottom, who cares? And we really, who cares? And even making up stories at that time. Going through the books and asking questions, looking at the pictures. I think that a lot of adults don’t realize how important pictures are, how important the illustrations in the book is. There’s a reason that artists get awards for writing for doing good illustrations for bucks, because you should be able to take both the words and the illustrations completely separately and still understand the story. So the illustration should enhance the story at any point. And this way, you can talk about the story, you can talk about the pictures, and still get a really good idea. And it’s a great way for kids to really understand what’s going on. Let’s well

Jim 19:13
yeah, all the way up to like you said fourth, fifth, even sixth grade picture books are still appropriate.

Corinne 19:19
I like picture books that I’m in my 50s Yeah, right.

Jim 19:24
But talking about those types of books, okay. Like we mentioned, AJ loves to hold his books. So, and some of them he has torn if it’s a regular paper page, but that’s something you can kind of work with, or work against, I guess, by buying those board books. They’re heavy duty. He has got some that he’s chewed up and slobbered all over and you can still read them. He can still carry them around. They’re still intact. They’re very durable. And he just loves those books. They’re like his best friends. They’re they’re like You know, a comfort blanket to him sometimes. So look for those types of things for your grandchild. Those will go a long way towards nurturing that inner reader as well. And then just being a good role model, read around your grandchild, even when it’s not that reading time, have the book that you’re currently reading out where they can see it. Talk about what you’re reading, like we said, when you go to the, when you go to the pumpkin patch to pick out new pumpkin talk about Harris and me in at the farm. Make those connections with everyday life with what you’ve been reading with your child, with your

Corinne 20:36
child, such an important skill anyway to make connections across everything that you’re doing. So books are such a good way to give children a look into a different culture or look into a sport or look into health look into all kinds of things that aren’t necessarily something that they would be, you know, drawn to right away, but could still be very interesting in the book and and open their eyes to making themselves better.

Jim 21:06
Yeah. Oh, let’s give some good reading tips. You talked about

Corinne 21:12

Jim 21:13
illustrations, as you’re reading. Yeah, especially on those repeat reads. Pretty soon, your child as they are growing and, and understanding the story and can maybe not read yet, but they can still tell you about the story. They can use those pictures as a retelling tool. So as you walk through the book, just looking at the pictures, have them tell you about what’s happening in each picture. And what part of the story that is. That’s a great skill as well.

Corinne 21:45
It’s also important for them not to think that just because we read the book, it’s time. Yeah, we’re finished with it. So that’s where the questioning and having a little discussion about it afterwards comes into play. And maybe everybody in the in the family has read that book. Maybe it’s something like what’s a children’s book everybody reads a nightmare in my closet. Is that what it’s called? A monster in my closet monster under the bed, a monster under the bed or anyway, there’s all kinds of them that people read for years and years and years and years and years. And so everybody I mean, Seuss, Dr. Seuss, exactly. Green Eggs and Ham. And you can talk about when you first read that story, or maybe at a time when you eat green eggs and ham at school, maybe they’ll get to do that someday. Right. Just making connections and talking about it as if it’s very important more so important than just the actual reading.

Jim 22:41
Right? That. Yeah, that was a big issue that I would deal with, especially with those reluctant readers in the classroom would be you finish the story and yeah, okay, that’s the end of the story. What’s next? No, no, no, no, no, let’s, the story is there for us to think about. So let’s talk about like you said, but also, you know, not just reading the story from beginning to ending, but pausing in the story, make prediction, and not just asking question about the pictures, but yeah, make predictions. What do you think’s gonna happen next? And then talk about your predictions? Did it come true? What was it that made you make that prediction? If it did come true? Or even if it didn’t come true? What was the author doing? How did they trick you? If you didn’t get the right prediction?

Corinne 23:28
Which is always fine. Yeah, we love to do that. I think we do it very naturally. You see it a lot when you’re watching TV, because TV has taken over a lot of that for us, that we can get back with reading. Yes, it’s so important for the kids, it’s gonna make them much more successful academically. And we want them I’m not saying you should push it and be a teacher in your home if you don’t want to, but it’s just nice to engender that love.

Jim 23:56
It is just great nurture, and, and bonding time, it’s

Corinne 23:59
such together.

Jim 24:01
So yeah, don’t discount it. And I do have adults that tell me that they don’t like to read. But they still read with their children anyway, with their grandchildren anyway. Because it is an important skill.

Corinne 24:18
I think that’s, that’s an interesting thing to say, as an adult that I don’t like to read, you know, I wish more that maybe you don’t have time to read or or maybe just haven’t found the right book yet. Yeah, I just I always find that such a tragedy when someone tells me that. But I mean, of course, everyone’s different. Okay, so we have those long distance grandparents. I mean, how are they going to bond with their kids with reading?

Jim 24:40
Well, I mean, it’s all the same stuff. You can of course, you can always Record the reading of a book for yourself, and then send that to your grandchild and have them read. But what I think is a really good idea is to send a copy of the book to your grandchild, so they actually have it there with them. have mom check one out of the library? Exactly. Or check it off in the library. And then if it’s a recording, they can listen to the recording as they read along. Of course, in recording, you’re not going to pause, I would not recommend that for recording, you do want to just read it from start to finish, you don’t want to record it, the very first time you’ve read it, I would recommend reading a story two or three times before you record it. Because you want the recording to be as smooth and as effective towards the storytelling process as possible, different voices that you can use for different characters. And that’s one of the things that always trips me up when I’m reading out loud, is getting the wrong character’s voice and not catching the change of speaker. So being familiar as much as possible before you record. And really anytime you’re doing a read aloud, that’s really critical. I wouldn’t

Corinne 25:58
say it’s so critical that it should scare you. But it’s just a good idea to to be aware of.

Jim 26:04
Yeah, yeah, and even if you don’t do a great job or don’t have great voices,

Corinne 26:09
recordings can be re recorded to exactly,

Jim 26:13
exactly. So that’s kind of a linear way of doing it. But in this day and age, you can send a copy of the book, have a copy of the book signed out at the library, but haven’t there so that you’ve got one with you, your grandchild has one with them, and go on Facebook, use FaceTime, or Google Hangout, or whatever your favorite, you know, online collaboration tool is and read together that way. And then you can pause and ask questions and point to the pictures and hold the picture up and say what what exactly is happening in this picture, you know, make those predictions, all that good stuff. Now, of course, this kind of violates the whole not having a screen on while you’re reading. But in this case, it’s it’s a special situation, and you need that screen for the reading.

Corinne 27:04
And you’re still doing your job helping them learn to love to read. And I think that maybe trumps it, yeah, it beats it out

Jim 27:13
and just have a book, whenever you do come to visit, don’t you know ignore your grandchild, because you’re going to read, sometimes you do get a really good book that you really don’t want to tear yourself away from. But you want to have it with you. So they see that you are also a lifelong reader. And that it’s okay to be a reader. I also recommend in like to take a book with me, like if we’re going someplace that where there might be some waiting time, like at the doctor’s office or something. And then you can read together then as well. Or, like we said reading the book in the car. But you can also take audio books in the car. It’s not reading, but it’s still engendering the love of the storytelling. And I think that’s when

Corinne 27:58
kids love storyboarding, too. They just love them. So it’s a great way to it’s just a good bonding experience. And it’s good for all kids, no matter what their ages, I think you’ll find that from toddlers to teenagers. As long as you find a book that you both love, you’re going to enjoy doing it. And sometimes that’s a little harder than others. And maybe it’ll take a little effort, especially at first. But once you get into a rhythm, then you’ll know. For example, let’s say that your granddaughter really loves to bake cookies with you. And that’s your thing every time you bake a new cookie. Well that what a great thing to do go through cookbooks and find, you know, different recipes from long ago or different cultures that you can try while you’re baking cookies. I mean, that’s excellent. And then let’s say you pick a cookie from Turkey. And then you’re like, well, Turkey, what kind of country? Is that? What goes on over there? So then that’s like, Okay, well, let’s go find out a little bit about Turkey now. Which by the way, is an awesome place. We love it. So, and they have good cookies. Yeah, I mean, I think that it just once you get the ball rolling, then you’ll have no end to things that you can do. Whether it’s crafts, whether it’s adventures, whether it’s just plain old Harry Potter, whatever it is, believe me, there’s plenty out there and you’re both gonna love it. Yeah. I think that waiting for engendering that love of books and that love of reading is something that a grandparent really, really can help doing. Take a little bit of the onus off the parent when the grandkids are with you and fill out that waiting log if you have to. But it’s not about the reading log. It’s about the bond. It’s about. It’s about making these little people better and helping them to conquer This world because this world is can be

Jim 30:03
hard. You have to be able to read it is brilliant, you have to be able to read. And, and nowadays, especially so much has gone to the screen that it’s, I think too easy to ignore the written word. And yes, you can read on a screen. It’s true. But to really build the love of reading, I think really takes the physical motions as well, the mechanics of a book,

Corinne 30:29
and I think books are going anywhere no matter what some people say. So, come back to it. Good luck. I think that you’re gonna enjoy it.

Jim 30:37
Enjoy your reading time. For sure. I know I do.

Corinne 30:41
Thanks for joining us this week on modern grandparent team. For all things grandparents, go to our website at grandma’s good digital, and sign up for our newsletter so you’ll never miss out on an article or a podcast. And just hit the subscribe button for podcast here and also

Jim 30:57
join our Facebook group. answer a few questions. We’ll get you right in there. Share your experiences, ask questions share,

Corinne 31:06
you can share everything because it’s private. Only people that we know our grandparents and our trustworthy are allowed to go on the site. No worries there. Anyway, have a wonderful week everyone. Thanks for listening. Happy grandparenting

Transcribed by