Reading as a family
We have books on shelves all over the house. If we could fit in more shelves, we’d do it and fill them with books. There’s just something about being surrounded by books.
I can’t remember a time that our home wasn’t filled with books. When we had our house in the states, Pat designed a custom bookcase that went all the way up the wall. I miss that bookcase and miss all those books as we had to get rid of about 85% of them before moving to the UK.
It looks different now as we have a much smaller space to work with and we still aren’t back up to the amount of books we had before, but having books ready to grab is still important to us. We believe if books are there, someone will grab one eventually.
So how do we get our kids to actually grab the books and read them? There’s nothing over-complicated about encouraging reading with our kids. It’s simple things like having books around, letting them see us read, and trying to find the type of books they enjoy.
Pat and I model this to our kids by reading in front of them. When there is downtime we try to be super intentional about picking up a book instead of our phones. This doesn’t mean we’re perfect at it but they do seem to notice when it’s a book instead of the phone. They’ll ask what we’re reading instead of just whizzing by us when we’re on our phone. We hope they see us reading in our downtime, or little snippets of time in between things, and they realize they can do the same.
We’ve read to our kids since the day they were born. We still read out loud to them at all of their ages, even the 13-year-old. There’s just something about being curled up together on a bed reading together!
All of our kids have gone through stages where they read like crazy, bring the book to breakfast and barely talk to us, to other times when they just can’t find a book they are into and go for a bit without finishing a book. We try our best to help them discover new things to read and to try out new books. It can take some time to find the book that gets them reading like crazy again, so we just keep trying till we find the solution.
This morning on the way to school our middle son asked if we could start having a reading time each day with us all on the sofa together and we all get to have tea too. This sounds delightful, and it won’t happen everyday, but I’m already thinking how we could fit this into some of our evenings.
We don’t always buy books. We often go to the library to discover new books or instead of buying a book, will check it out. If it’s a book we feel like we want in our house to read over and over then we’ll buy a copy for our home. Libraries are such a great way to discover new authors and illustrators.
It’s not about a list of to-dos to get your kids to love reading, but it does take some patience. It’s worth every moment of them talking over you while you read or telling you “I don’t want to read, I want to watch TV.”
It’s the moments you see them deeply immersed in a book that you can’t get them to answer a simple question. It’s when they start telling you every detail of the book or they imaginary play the stories they’ve just read.
Reading takes them to different worlds and ideas and we will always encourage them to expand their worldview and thoughts through books.