I used to love to read.
Long before I was a Mommy, I actually read a lot. It’s not easy. I work 50+ hours per week most weeks, am single mom many nights and I’m just in a place where I read all day long and my brain and eyes are tired when I get home and we’re unwinding. So, I find mindless stuff to focus on.
I grew up in a house with people who loved to read and we had books EVERYWHERE. There were bookshelves in almost every room. When it was a rainy day, you read. When you wanted to just relax for a little while, you picked up a book. As you were settling into bed for the night, you lied down with a book. When you were traveling to visit relatives, you brought a few books for the plane ride.
It was natural and I couldn’t understand anything different.
Both of my parents traveled a lot for work when I was a kid (a commercial pilot and an education consultant). To keep us inspired to read when she traveling, my mother made audiotapes of herself reading our favorite stories and we could listen to them before bedtime.
I would devour books in my teens and 20s, reading every second and late into the night even while balancing life, job, school, athletics, etc. Reading was my where I found solace. I read every book I could find by Ken Follett, Sidney Sheldon, Nelson Demille, David Baldacci, Jeffrey Archer, Patricia Cornwell, Harlan Coben, Janet Evanovich and Faye Kellerman. Then, I discovered Julia Alvarez, Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Lamott, Wally Lamb, Maya Angelou, Joyce Carol Oates, James Baldwin, Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, Amy Tan, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelous, Dorothy Sayers, Colleen McCullough….the list goes on and on.
I’m not sure what happened, but somewhere between law school and having children, I pretty much stopped all-together. [I’m still I am a book hoarder (ask my wife) and still love buying books that I convince myself I will read cover-to-cover “one day soon.” I probably have 10 boxes of books in my garage and attic that I haven’t opened since we moved in 2006. I keep buying more and wondering where they will go and when I will read them. I don’t have any bookshelves in my living room (the only one is in the boys’ room) and I miss having one.]
Recently, I finished cleaning up the dishes from dinner, sat down on the couch with my boys and a few minutes into our “down time”, I looked up and realized that we were all just staring at our devices. I was flip-flopping between work emails and Facebook. My 7 year old was watching a Minecraft video on his Kindle and my 4 year old was watching Netflix on the WiiU controller.
I didn’t like it. I want them to actually do something with that down time.
But I don’t want to force my kids to read, I want them to ENJOY it.
When my oldest was kicking and screaming about reading every night, my mother (the educator) suggested “Captain Underpants”. I know it’s been criticized for being silly or obnoxious (even banned), but it was perfect.
We now have every single book from the collection and we’re anxious awaiting the release of the latest book, Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 and we’re also looking forward to this, the Captain Underpants Movie (2017).
Now, we can coerce, bribe, gently ease into nighttime reading by having my soon-to-be-a-2nd-grader read his level of book aloud, then mommy reads a few chapters of Captain Underpants which sends both boys into giggles and fits of laughter with each page turn. My younger one needs very little prodding. He gets upset when we don’t have time to read or he falls asleep before reading time.
I’m a big believer in setting the example. I want to read again. I want to spend the down time chilling with books, not electronics every waking second. I’m challenging myself and my household to get back on the reading cycle. If they are supposed to read a certain # of hours every week, so will Mommy. Even if it’s only 20 minutes per night.
I welcome others to join in – if you’re not already all over it! I have a lot of reading to do if I’m going to put a dent in all the books that exist in this house!
Please share your thoughts:
How do you designate reading time?
How do you encourage your kids to read, especially if they’re resistant?