Reading Room

Reading with Your Grandchildren

Do you remember reading to your children? When you were a child, do you remember an adult reading to you? Probably you do. Cozying up with a good book and sharing that experience with someone you love is a feeling we long remember.

But reading is not just a pleasurable thing to do. In 1985, a groundbreaking report from the Commission on Reading, Becoming a Nation of Readers, found that, “the single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success is reading aloud to children.”[1] And if you put “Benefits of Reading to Children” into a Google search, you’ll find a mountain of evidence that reading to children starting from an early age is not just helpful for their literacy skills, but essential to their success in most areas of their lives. 

By taking the time to read with your grandchildren you can have a significant impact on their reading skills. In addition, books provide myriad opportunities to engage in conversation about both the pictures and text on the pages, which can reinforce your grandchild’s language and cognitive skills. And of course, reading with your grandchildren – whether it’s finding Jewish values in a Harry Potter book, learning about solving problems from a Bible story, or laughing together at the misadventures in a Jewish folktale – will help strengthen the bond between you, provide opportunities for you to share your values with them, and help you create memories that can last a lifetime. 

Tips for sharing books with your grandchildren:

  • Give your grandchildren something to look forward to when they visit by creating a “Bubbe and Zayde Library” of engaging books in your home. It can be a bookcase, a nook, or even a single shelf of books, just for them.
  • EngagedTry out some activities that connect to the book you are reading together. For example, you can make a project using the directions in a how-to book or cook a treat that you both saw in an illustration. You can even try an activity with a Jewish theme, like decorating a plate with images of apples and honey after you read a book about Rosh Hashanah.
  • Visit your local library with your grandchild and pick out books together. By demonstrating the process of borrowing, caring for, and returning books, you can model how much you value books. You’ll also get to learn more about your grandchild’s interests, as you see what stories and topics excite them.
  • Spend quiet time together reading. Reading together can spark imagination and give children the opening to speak about what’s on their minds.
  • Ask older children to read aloud to you. Having you listen to them read will help boost their dramatic skills and confidence.
  • Reading can be an effective segue to naptime or bedtime, providing a gentle link between activities and needed rest. Reading to kids in bed or in a big comfy chair can be a warm and soothing experience for you both.

Which books should I read with my grandchild?

The list of best Jewish children’s books is a great starting point for reading with your grandchildren. Created by The Association of Jewish Libraries with the support of the Jewish Grandparents Network, it includes 100 classic (and soon-to-be classic) picture and middle-grade books. Each book on the list highlights the Jewish world and is perfect for sharing Jewish traditions and values with your grandchildren. Best of all, they are fun, engaging reads.

Click HERE to view the list of best Jewish children’s books as recommended by professionals at Jewish libraries across North America. 

Click HERE to learn to “Read Aloud Like an Expert”

Kathy Bloomfield is President of the Association of Jewish Libraries

[1]  National Academy of Education, and Richard C. Anderson. 1985. Becoming a nation of readers: the report of the Commission on Reading. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Education.