As parents, we know that reading matters, but we don't often stop to think about just how beneficial the simple act of reading with our children can be. Reading builds listening skills, increases attention span, develops creativity, fosters imagination, and provides a wonderful way to connect with our kids.

Quite simply, reading with your children is one of the best gifts you can ever give them, so follow these 10 tips and get started today!

1. Start Early

Even small babies can enjoy books. They may treat them like toys and will probably chew on them, but they will also learn how to turn pages and begin to discover the shapes, colors, and pictures that are housed inside. Sturdy board books are best for infants and toddlers, as are simple picture books with lots of repetition. Popular books for this age group include classics like Pat the Bunny, Goodnight Moon, or anything with nursery rhymes.

2. Make Reading a Habit

Even if you can't manage to set aside a specific "reading time" each day, it's still important to fit reading into your routine when you can. Visit the library regularly and keep books in easy-to-reach places so that when you're tempted to turn on the TV, you can grab a book and read with your kids instead.

3. Build a Reading Nook

Designate at least one spot in your home as a reading nook. The spot should be cozy and comfortable, with good lighting and a nice chair, or maybe just some big, soft pillows. Most importantly, there should be plenty of space to store your family's favorite books.

4. Keep It Fun

Many kids see reading as a chore, particularly when it is challenging for them. Make the time spent reading at home as relaxed and enjoyable as possible. Read aloud so that struggling readers can enjoy the stories without worrying about the pressure of pronouncing words correctly, and be willing to make a fool of yourself doing those "silly" voices kids love.

5. Mix It Up

If you (or your kids) are getting bored with your reading routine, try something new:

  • Let older siblings read to younger siblings, or look for programs where beginning readers can read to specially-trained therapy dogs.
     
  • Take advantage of library storytime. Spend time reading one of your books while a librarian reads to your children.
     
  • Change the scenery. Head to a coffee shop or book store with cozy chairs where you can curl up and read together.
     
  • Do a project based on one of the books you've read. For example, picture books lend themselves to a variety of creative activities for toddlers and preschoolers.

6. Choose the Right Reading Material

If you have begrudging readers, let them choose the books you read, even if their choices aren't exactly what you would deem "great literature." Remember, magazines count too — maybe a subscription to National Geographic Kids would help your little one catch the reading bug.

Another great resource to help you choose the right reading material is Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook. The comprehensive book explores just about every aspect of reading aloud with kids, from why it is so important to a list of almost 1,000 recommended books.

7. Talk About What You're Reading

Reading is about more than just the words on the page. When reading with your child, help build comprehension and critical thinking skills by casually asking questions about the story.

  • When you reach an exciting part, pause and ask your child what she thinks will happen next.
     
  • When you've finished reading, talk about what you each liked and didn't like about the story.
     
  • Encourage your child to think of ways the story reminds him of his own life.

8. Embrace Technology

Audiobooks are great for keeping kids occupied in the car, as are children's book apps. The apps can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet within minutes, and their interactive features make them a delight to children of all ages.

9. Join a Book Club

Parent-child book clubs can introduce you both to new and interesting books and ideas, and provide your kids with the opportunity to discuss what they read with friends their own age. Mother-daughter book clubs are particularly popular, and there are lots of resources to help you start your own.

10. Build a Connection

Children who read with their parents as kids are more likely to have a better connection with their parents as adults, so when your children become teenagers, continue to read with them as much as possible. Suggest news articles that can be discussed over family dinners, and make an effort to read and discuss novels that you both enjoy.

Before you know it, your kids will have children of their own. If you're lucky (and if you've followed the tips above), the books you read to them as children just might be the same books they choose to share with their own kids.