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Reading to Your Grandchildren Long Distance

Reading to your grandchildren can be one of life’s pleasures. Imagine it…a sweet toddler on your lap…or your best little buddy nestled against you. Sounds great, of course, but what about those of you who do most of your grandparenting long-distance? In that case, unfortunately, reading to your grandchildren is relegated to your infrequent visits. Maybe not…as you can use modern technology to facilitate the time-honored act of reading a storybook and engaging with your grandchildren.

children's books, reading to children, curious george, fancy nancy, long-distance grandparents, skype, midlife, midlife women

children's books, reading to children, curious george, fancy nancy, long-distance grandparents, skype, midlife, midlife womenWhen I dropped into my knitting group the other day, one of the women was describing how she visits with her granddaughter via Skype. This got me thinking how you can add books to the mix, so to speak. Skype is a free service, and it’s easy to learn how to use, but you could certainly make use of FaceTime or any other method of video chatting to read to your grandchild.

Reading via Skype could be as simple as first talking to your grandchild and then introducing the book you’re going to read, much as you would do in person. You might give him a choice of books or read a couple short ones or just read the same favorite book each time. For an older child (with her own copy of the book), you could take turns reading to each other or you might select a chapter book and read a chapter each time. Create your own reading rituals together.

If you have a flair for the dramatic like me (a former actor), it would be fun to stage a mock television show and make it as elaborate as you wish. Dream up a persona. Maybe you’re “The Book Papa” or “Storybook Granny” or “The Reading Nana.”

Perhaps in this scenario, you’re a teacher or a librarian hosting a show called “Story Time” or “Reading Adventures.” Or pull out all the stops and dress up in costume. Does your granddaughter adore Fancy Nancy books? Great! Bedeck yourself with a boa and a tiara. Does your grandson enjoy Curious George? Become the Man in the Yellow Hat. Is your grandchild fond of pirate stories? Dig up an eye patch and a bandana. Become any character—major or minor—that you’d enjoy portraying. Of course, if one of your goals of Skyping is to have your grandchild recognize you, this would not be the way to go. Also, the disguise will go over better if your grandchild is old enough to be somewhat “in on the joke.”

Another idea would be to shoot a video of yourself reading to your grandchild and post it on YouTube. This can be done with your computer camera (iMovie) and then uploaded to YouTube. Just be sure privacy settings are set, so that only your family can access the movie. Your grandchild can view it over and over. Making a present of the book you are reading aloud would definitely enhance the experience.

Have you tried any of these suggestions? What are your tips?

Belinda Brock

My background is in teaching and educational publishing. Currently, I am a writing coach working with students who are applying for college, graduate or professional school. I am in the midst of setting up a small publishing company to publish my children's stories. My blog, Grandbooking, focuses on children, books and literacy.

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