Books Bridge the Distance

Girl Reading B&WReading 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.

When 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.”

200px-FancyNancyPerhaps 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?

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6 Responses to “Books Bridge the Distance”

  1. barbara miller

    First time I have seen your blog, Ms. Brock ( may i call you Belinda?). Your blog rings so true to me. The time that I get to spend with my triplet grandgirls on my lap reading to them is the most special time of the week for me. If you have any special book suggestions for 4 year olds, please let me know.. I look forward to reading your next post!

    • belindambrock

      Wow..3 beautiful granddaughters!!! And 4 is a great age! I have a couple suggestions:1) Blackout by John Rocco is a wonderful book; it’s the story of a little girl whose family members are all too busy to play with her until…there’s a power outage. The book doesn’t have a lot of words (the trend now), but it carries an important message. 2) Kiki and Coco in Paris by Nina Gruener is a charming story about a girl and her doll that is set in Paris. An interesting feature is that it is illustrated with photographs rather than drawings. Welcome to my blog, Barbara, and certainly, call me Belinda.

  2. Ellen Gussin

    Belinda, I wish you all the best with your great blog! Reading to our six grandchildren is one of grandparenting’s best pleasures and even though three are out of town, I do cherish the times when I can have them on my lap or by my side. We try to Skype and keep in touch but I am going to offer the reading time as an option to my 7 and 4 year old granddaughters — thanks for the suggestion!

    • belindambrock

      Ellen, thanks for your support! Let me know how the long-distance reading goes, and I would always be interested in any suggestions you have for future posts.

  3. Judy Weiss

    Belinda, what a great idea! I will be following your blog closely. As you know, our two granddaughters(ages 4 and 6) live in Boston. They love books and I never arrive without some packed in my suitcase! Our 2 Grandsons (Ages 2 and 5) love books too and it’s a favorite of mine to bring with me when I come over to their house. What you could help with are suggestions…so I will purchase the ones you suggested for the girls and will await your next ideas…Good to connect with you in any way! Love, Judy

    • belindambrock

      Welcome to my blog, Judy! Sounds as if your grandchildren are getting off to a great start. Look for an upcoming post with a wonderful preschool teacher who tells us which books she most enjoys reading to her class.