As long as I can remember, I have loved to read. In high school I could, and usually did, read a 400+ page book for fun each week. The love of reading has not changed over the years, even if I no longer read 400 pages of fiction every week.
Over the past several years I have read about various ways to encourage reading in your kids. Often I see the advice given to start reading to them when they are young, visiting the library, and to have them see you read.
Our kids have always loved reading and will sit in your lap for hours, if you let them, listening to books. When we first had young ones in the house, the “kids” books we had were mainly ones from when I was a kid. My mom had gone through and divided up our books at one point when she was cleaning up her house. Honestly, there were not many and it quickly became apparent we needed more.
Another things that became obvious was the need for good books. While I enjoyed ‘fun’ books as a kid, I realized that the time I had with the kids in my lap was very much undivided attention and should be used to actually accomplish something. While we still have a few ‘fun’ books around our house for the kids, we have found that they usually do not keep the attention like a ‘better’ book.
When the kids were toddlers and not in school, we seemed to have more time to read. It was easier to sit down and go through a few books a day. Then we hit a lull. Life had changed schedules and reading somehow got left behind. This was not for a long stint, perhaps two months or so, but it was long enough for me to start missing it.
I began trying different ways to reincorporate reading back into our day. What I have found to work is adding it at night right before bed time.
At first I had each kid choose a book they wanted to read. Then I realized that we were getting nowhere on the reading list I had hoped to be working my way through. The kids would choose the same book every night.
I adjusted the “rules” and added in a book of my choosing in addition to the ones they wanted to read. The books I chose were usually ones that had a lesson or example the kids could learn or follow, or of genre they kids normally may not have chosen. Books like The Ox Cart Man, When We Were Very Young (a book of poetry), The Little House, and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.
It was at this time I also found out the kids were finally old enough to pay attention to an audio book. Mom’s life was made more glorious at this realization. I no longer had to be the sole reader of books to young ears.
We made our way through the basic reading list I had put together, finding several books that we loved and others that I could only finish once before returning to the library. (If those were a part of a series, I did not finish the series as we/I really did not care for them.)
One of the best ways, at that time, to make sure we stayed moving forward with reading different books was to put in a series of request at our local library. We are able to even enter requests for future dates. This worked well, with a new book being requested every week or every other week. The library changed systems, without me realizing it, and our list was lost. While a bad thing at first, from this came a good thing. Our current system.
… to be continued in Part 2