Making Virtual Reading Sessions Work For Your Family

So, let’s be honest. I don’t come across a lot of parents at the playground that geek out about kid lit quite like I do. As a result, one of the best parts of beginning this whole blogging journey has been connecting with some amazing like-minded mamas and papas. Today I’m thrilled to be sharing a guest post from one-such-mom. Samantha Munoz of Addison Reads is sharing her take on virtual reading sessions. These high-tech story times are special in our home as well. They allowed #thebigone, #thehubs, and myself to read to our nephew when he was still a tiny little squish in the NICU. If you’re a family who struggles to make regular read-a-louds work (whether due to complicated schedules or distance), Samantha has the solution for you. 

NEPHEW VIRTUAL READING SESSION
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Virtual Reading Sessions

Reading with your children brings about such a closeness and intimacy that many other activities do not even come close to providing. Typically, it’s the physical closeness that reading requires (sitting next to one another, close enough to both see the words and illustrations), but it’s also an emotional closeness. Talking about the stories or laughing about the predicaments of the characters makes way for a close, deep-rooted connection with your child.

ADDISON VIRTUAL READING SESSION DAD VIRTUAL READING SESSION

But what do you do when the physical closeness is lost, when you cannot be together in person, but still want to reap the benefits of reading with your little one? As a military family, we have dealt with this head on. My husband, daughter and I incorporate reading together into our daily lives and hold that time sacred. But we have had to get creative as we have been separated by distance. We have figured out a way to make it work with “virtual reading sessions”. I want everyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation to take back the closeness of reading together.

What is a “Virtual Reading Session”?

A virtual reading session is just what it sounds like, reading with someone – virtually! Instead of being physically present reading a book together, a video interface is used to enjoy the reading experience. There are a couple of ways you might set one of these up for yourself, Depending on the circumstance, one may be more preferable than the other. The two ways are: live or recorded.

Live

Thanks to the existence of technology, a live reading session can be achieved pretty easily if you have a smart phone or computer. Most video programs are free and include:

  • Skype
  • FaceTime
  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts
  • Facebook Video Messenger

and more! We like to use FaceTime for our reading sessions because it is on my cell phone and really easy to use. Although, and this is totally a tangent, it would be so nice if there was a “FaceTime Jr” that disabled the end call button – too often my little Addison has accidentally turned off a call with daddy by clicking that very tempting large red button.

Recorded

If a live session is just out of the question (maybe the reader is in a totally different time zone or in a place where they cannot make live calls), a recorded reading session can work just as well. Again, having a phone or computer at this point can pretty much take care of recording the video for you. Simply record a video of you reading the book and send it along in an email or text message. The benefit of recorded videos is that they can be played again and again, which is great if communication is infrequent. Having a stash of 5 recorded reading sessions to cycle through can really make it feel like that special person isn’t so far away at all.

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Why do a Virtual Reading Session?

That last part really gets into the “why” of virtual reading sessions – why would someone do this and why does it matter? There are tons of situations that may be cause for engaging in a virtual reading session, and as a military family we have experienced a ton of them. Here are some possible reasons to do a virtual reading session:

  • Deployments
  • Business trips
  • Vacations
  • Hospital stays
  • Divorces or Separations

Integrating reading into your child’s daily life is a wonderful way to engage with them and build lasting connections and memories. Just because someone is far away does not mean they should miss out on the opportunity to build that relationship with your little one. Thank the good Lord for technology, because now we do not have to go without.

When Addison’s dad is with us and not out doing training or work related adventures, we read every night as a family. It is very important to us to maintain consistency for her. Having reading as a constant makes things a little easier when everything else seems to be changing in her little world. Enter our virtual reading sessions – we try to do them as often as we can to recreate the experience of reading together. Sometimes we have to do recorded ones simply because it’s the nature of the beast of this military lifestyle. When we get those sacred live reading moments, we soak them up.

Who can do a Virtual Reading Session?

The real answer is, anyone! But I know you did not come to this article to hear that. If you really think outside the box, there are so many people who can hold a virtual reading session:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts & Uncles
  • Siblings
  • Teachers

Solo parenting can be super difficult (trust me, I know from experience). Incorporating my husband into our reading time makes me feel like my partner is still there and we are a team. This could even work for separated families – having mom or dad record a video of them reading a book can help bring the family together if only for a moment. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings who are far away can join in and build the connection with your child by reading to them.

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Virtual Reading Session Process

If you’re ready to set up a virtual reading session, here’s a quick process you can follow.

  1. Send the virtual reader some books or have them choose some to surprise the child
  2. Set up a special moment, put it on the calendar (if live) or have a time when the child should expect to receive the recorded version
  3. For the person with the child, engage with them and encourage them to communicate as much as possible
  4. For the reader, be energetic and cheery. Read the book facing the camera and don’t be afraid to have some fun with it (silly voices, multiple books, etc.)
  5. Set a time to do some more – have the child involved in choosing the next books and set up an order for them to be delivered!
Have you ever held a virtual reading session? What technology did you utilize? Would you do it again?
If your family finds it challenging to make story times happen regularly due to schedules or distance, this guest post is perfect for you. Samantha Munoz of Addison Reads is explaining virtual reading sessions, their benefits, and how to make them work for your family. If your family finds it challenging to make story times happen regularly due to schedules or distance, this guest post is perfect for you. Samantha Munoz of Addison Reads is explaining virtual reading sessions, their benefits, and how to make them work for your family.

 


Samantha MunozAddison ReadsSamantha Munoz is a mother, wife, engineer, bibliophile and avid coffee drinker. She is also the expert kid’s lit curator at Addison Reads and author of The Intentional Bookshelf. Sam writes children’s book reviews to guide parents as they search for the perfect books for their little ones and helps moms and dads build a library with a purpose. Once a seriously overwhelmed and stressed out parent herself, Sam turns to children’s literature for the answers to all of her parenting dilemmas. She currently lives in sunny California but loves when it rains because it gives her an excuse to stay inside and read with her daughter!

Connect with Samantha: Instagram / Facebook / Pinterest


26 Comments

  • babiestobookworms

    I love this idea so much. Our read aloud times are so important to us, I would hate the idea of missing one or more of them. I’m grateful that technology has advanced enough for us to be able to do this!

    • Kate

      My aunt and uncle used to record themselves reading to my sister and I on audio cassettes… It’s amazing how far technology has come in our lifetimes alone!

    • Sam

      Us too – the idea that we were going to have to miss out on these moments was just not going to fly!

  • Allison

    I really love this idea, I’m always looking for more ways to connect to my niece and nephew who are across the country.

    • Kate

      Thank you! I hope you’re able to share some long distance story time with your niece and nephew soon!

  • Stephanie Lowry

    I absolutely love this idea! As a fellow military wife we are always looking for ways to keep our families “in it” with our children as well as my spouse. I can’t wait to introduce this idea to my mother who helps me encourage the love of reading into my children and my spouse that fights me for who gets to read the bedtime story haha

    • Kate

      So glad that this topic resonated with you. I hope your family has a lot of fun with it!

  • Justine Y @ Little Dove

    This is such a great idea! I think the live sessions are great but I love the idea of recorded sessions too, that would be so nice to have in some situations.

    • Kate

      I do like the idea of live, but there’s definitely some benefits to recorded. We made that YouTube channel for my nephew, and then a year later I had my youngest… when I needed to put him down to cook, I could pull up our channel, and he could listed to his dad or I read him a book. It was seriously a lifesaver at times. Thanks for checking out the post!

  • themomnoms

    This is a great idea. My son’s family lives all over the world and we don’t really get that much time with them. I would love for them to have story time with him.

    • Kate

      Definitely a great idea- I hope your family is able to make virtual reading time happen for your son!

  • dearlyndsey09

    I absolutely love this!!! When I left for basic training for the military my daughter was 3. I decided to make videos of me reading to her so she could feel comfort in me being gone. This is such a great way to connect.

    • Kate

      I love that you made videos of you reading to your daughter! I’m sure the videos meant so much to her while you were away!

  • ajonsson31

    I love this idea! My whole family lives across the country, so this would be such a special activity to do with them. That way they can still do the grandparent thing and read my kids stories. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kate

      I hope your parents and your kiddos have tons of fun doing virtual reading together! Thanks for checking out the post!

  • Shan Walker (@shanGURUwalker)

    Another children’s lit nerd here! Literature nerd in general of many genres! This is an incredible post that touches two areas close to my heart: reading to kids and military deployment. Thank you for these tips!

    • Kate

      Kid lit nerds UNITE! Yay! I’m so glad that Samantha’s post resonated with you!

    • Sam

      YES. Exactly. Military deployments / times apart are tough – I think reading has really helped make it a smoother transition for my daughter.

    • Kate

      Thanks so much!

  • Meredith

    This is an amazing idea, and so important to know that just because you’re not physically there, your child still benefits from a virtual reading session!

    • Kate

      I agree completely. Thank you!

  • projectlifewellness

    This is so perfect! what a cool concept. I have never tried it but am thinking about it. My son loves being read to by his auntie so this would be so perfect for us to use with her!

    • Kate

      I hope it’s something you guys are able to use! It’s really fun, and so beneficial for the kiddos!

  • Danielle

    I love this! Reading is very important in our life, too!

    • Kate

      Thanks Danielle!

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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