Pushing Your Kids to Read

For many of us, reading to our kids is something we know we should do, something we plan on doing, but the days get away from us, and it simply doesn’t happen.  Believe me.  I would know.

But I decided that I wanted to change.   Even when my life feels cluttered and chaotic, reading should be made a priority.

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Take today for example.  I woke up late this morning after a rough night with a puking child.  There was bedding to wash, carpets to scrub, and carpet cleaners to call.  Since I was out of town last weekend, there was no milk in the fridge, no bread, no cereal, and no fresh fruit.   Not only did I have to run to the grocery store, but I had to clean out the refrigerator.  As a bonus, the same stomach bug was bothering me, and my energy was low.

But I still held firm on the reading.  At 1:30, when my oldest son asked if he could go and play, I asked him if he had done his 30 minutes of reading.  He asked what he should read.  I said we could continue reading Pride and Prejudice, or we could read something else.   To my complete surprise, he asked me to read Pride and Prejudice with him again.  He read it on my phone while I read the book.  There were lots of new vocabulary words for him, but the Kindle App let him look them up as we were reading.  He asked me questions when he didn’t understand something, and we got through the chapter in under 30 minutes.

Another son wanted to play, and he hadn’t read yet either.  Since he hates reading but loves to be read to, we read the chapter aloud.  At some point he will need to read more independently, but he’s now listening to the cadence of language, understanding the nuances of a pretty sophisticated story, and learning new vocabulary.  We got through another chapter of Fluff Dragon in the sci-fi/fantasty series by the brilliant Platte Clarke.

This evening after dinner, I had the older boys clean up while I read two short chapters of Charlotte’s Web to my two youngest children.  One of these chapters was little bit slower, and the kids were wandering around a bit, but I tried to engage them with questions, and they got especially involved when they learned that poor Wilbur would be slaughtered around Christmas.  My daughter kept asking me when we were going to buy her a pig. Alas!

There’s a few things that have surprised me as I’ve started this project.  For one,  I’ve been met with less resistance than I thought.   There was quite a bit of smoke about it all at first, but when the boys realized I was serious about reading a half hour a day, they just go ahead and get it done every day.   I’ve also let them read the books they choose and also give them the option of reading alone or with me.  What has also surprised me is that two of my older boys prefer to read with me, and what can I say?  I’m flattered.

How have you encouraged your kids to read?

Check out “How I Got My Fifteen-Year Old Son to Read Jane Austen.”  

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