What kind of emotions do those words stir in you? Do you feel a bubble of excitement rising? Or maybe your stomach just sank and the blood drained from your face? Maybe your response was somewhere between those extremes, or maybe you’re wondering what the context is. After all, the context could make all the difference, couldn’t it?Read More
Making Time for Books and Family
Beginning new traditions can be refreshing...but sometimes we don’t know where to begin. Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your everyday routine.
Sarah Mackenzie’s book, The Read-Aloud Family is a book to help us connect with our kids and help prepare them for the future, all through reading books aloud together. With tips and encouragement for families with kids of all ages. But how do we get started?
The Bed-Time Story
I don’t know about you, but when bed-time rolls around I am READY to have some peace and quiet. There are days when my husband and I have to force ourselves to slow down and honor the bed-time story routine that we have established.
Recently we have been reading a little bit of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone each night. We have the illustrated edition which both kids (and us adults) absolutely love. Reading together before bed has become a good way for us to come together at the end of the day, put all electronics aside, calm down the rambunctious children, and focus on a good story.
Whether you set a time limit, chapter limit, or pick a short story book or two, I encourage you to give this a try.
The curriculum that we use for our homeschooling (BookShark) incorporates the reading aloud of several books throughout the school year. This is one of the reasons I decided to go with them in the first place. Every day we read a portion of the current book, discuss the vocabulary, talk about what might happen next, ask questions about the setting and people, and we do all of this while the boys are eating lunch.
I have found that this is a really good way to include my youngest (who isn’t quite school age yet) in our daily classroom routine. Whether you are using a curriculum that incorporates reading aloud or not, you can easily begin reading aloud during lunch. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend Little House in the Big Woods or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
A new tradition that we are starting in our home, thanks to a little inspiration from Jessica Smartt’s Memory-Making Mom (watch for my review of this incredible book in our Spring issue), is morning devotions. Now, this is something that I have tried and failed, to do for the past couple of years. The boys were antsy, I was too busy trying to organize the rest of the day, nothing we did made it stick.
And then, I had an “Ah-ha” moment while reading Smartt’s book and I decided to give it another go. Freshly baked muffins, “tea” in fancy cups, candle, flowers, and devotions. And do you know what? It was a huge success. I am super excited to continue this on a daily basis.
Juggling the Age Differences
Luckily, my two boys are pretty close in age. Although, while one is beginning to get a decent grip on reading, the other can’t tell his colors apart yet. So what do you do when you have an extremely varied age range?
This is an easy age for reading aloud. Although reading the SAME book again for the 17th time that day can get a little rough. Why not take a jaunt over to the library and select a couple new board books to try? Or check out Usborne’s That’s Not My… series. These are some of my all-time favorite toddler books! Sensory, repetition, and OPTIONS! You can have the same style of book in so many different editions, it’s glorious.
Beginning to Read
Like I said earlier, my oldest is just on the edge of getting a good grip on reading. Plainly put, we are in the excruciating period where it takes a painfully long time for him to get through 1 line. But do you know what? I don’t care how long it takes him, because HE IS READING!!! We do use a lot of the I Can Read! books for schoolwork, but my personal favorite is the My First Reading Library. It gets the parent/teacher involved in the reading as well. I read a page, he reads a page, and repeats. It is nice because the stories are able to use a broader range of vocabulary than if he were required to read the book in its entirety. “Cat sat. Cat ran. Cat ran and sat.” type of stuff.
The Older Kids
I have very distinct memories of sitting around the living room and reading together as a family. We would each take turns reading a chapter and then pass it on to the next family member. We read The Chronicles of Narnia in this fashion and other stories. Looking back, I suppose I should have read-aloud more as a child/teen to help with pronunciation. Because even now, there are several words that I can spell, give you a definition of, and use it in a sentence, but I can NOT say it out loud correctly. Like “memoir” and “regularly” (and no, I did NOT just practice saying those out loud).
Reaping the Benefits
Do you want to know what is the most wonderful thing as a bookish parent? Seeing your children cherish and adore books just as much as you do. And what better way to encourage their love for literature than by reading aloud together on a regular basis.
Neither of my parents would be considered “bookish” but somehow, through the reading aloud together, Wishbone, and a never-ending penchant for curiosity, I have become THE book nerd of the family. Is it worth taking the extra time to read aloud together? Absolutely!
Do I see a difference in the way my kids speak? YES! My oldest used the word “nearly” in a sentence the other day. He used it correctly and was very intentional about using it. I can only attribute it to the variety of vocabulary he receives on a daily basis.
Do my kids beg to read books? YES! Is their favorite place to go, the library? YES! And through read aloud together, we are preparing them, nurturing them, and instilling a love for books that will be lifelong into those tiny little hearts of theirs.
Get Started Today
Sarah Mackenzie has the Read-Aloud Revival 31-Day Challenge active on her website right now. Sign up for free and jump into reading-aloud today!
Is your to do list longer than your TBR (to be read) list? I’m sure it is. Most of us, let’s face it, don’t even have time to be reading this blog post. Here’s a few ways to sneak in some time to read in a schedule that barely allows you to shower.
Read while you wait: Patience a good reader makes. Show up early to your appointments and read while you wait. On hold with Comcast? Pull out your current read. Waiting in the school pickup line? Throw it in park and grab your book. Fill these small bits of time throughout your day with reading, instead of scrolling through Facebook or catching up on news (I’ll give you the recap: the world is a sad and broken place).
Tuck yourself in with a story: Kids get a bedtime story so why shouldn’t you? Set a limit for yourself to read a chapter before bed each night. Not only is this the perfect wind down after a long day, but you will also get great dream inspiration from it.
Listen to audiobooks: Listen to a book during your commute or at the gym. Audiobooks can be somewhat expensive, so make sure to check out free resources like your local library and Librivox for public domain classics.
Don’t be afraid to DNF: If you are struggling to finish a book, do not finish (DNF) it. Read a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Don’t force yourself to slog through something painful. If you don’t like it, just pick up something else. There are plenty of fish in the sea books in the world.
Set yourself a goal: Are you a part of the Goodreads challenge? Set a goal for yourself to see how many books you can read this year. Be realistic and set a goal you know you can complete. Having a reminder of completing a goal will help you make reading a priority.
Grab an ereader: Carry a device with you, whether a smartphone or ereader so you can read anywhere you go. Even if you have a diehard hatred of ereaders, you have to admit, they are handy. If you like the book after you read it digitally, buy a hard copy to display on your shelf.
Quit wasting time: Choose to read a chapter or two instead of watching a rerun or scrolling through social media. Wake up early to read a book and drink coffee, instead of hitting snooze every five minutes until you’re late for work. There are 24 hours in a day and I’m sure there’s something you can stop wasting time on.
Read everywhere: Read wherever you are. Leave books in the bathroom, your gym bag, your car… Keep your mind entertained whenever you have a second free. You’ll soon find yourself enjoying tasks that you once thought mundane.
If you still can’t find time to read, you may have other issues. Remember to breathe now and again. Sometimes it’s important to take a break and let your mind escape reality into the pages of a good book.