Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Resting and Reading

Our culture is visually saturated and we are doing are best to raise some bookworms in the midst of this. It is so much easier to put in a DVD to quiet things down. Sometimes this is exactly what we do. But for the most part, we try to encourage the kids to wind down by "resting and reading time". This is usually an hour in midafternoon. They have found this to be the highlight of the day. It's a rare chance to be still and let the imagination soar or the mind be engaged or the spirit be renewed.

Here are some intentional steps we have taken to foster our childrens' hunger for reading even from a young age.

1. Provide low, accessible bookshelves with a wide variety of children's books. Amazing books can be found at garage sales for pennies. I used to get upset when the books were all over the floor, but then realized that love of reading and tidiness aren't even comparable. We just pick them up together at another time.

2. Go to the library often and ask the child what he/she would like to learn about. I'm often surprised by the answers I get and more surprised about their excitement to see a whole shelf of books on the topic.

3. Read exciting chapter books with an understandable plot. A book like this may take a while to get through, but it creates a thirst for more and the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a longer book.

4. Read with an accent. Sean has a English/Scottish/Irish accent that comes out ever so often and really engages the children. Kermit the frog also makes an appearance over the kitchen's half wall for some reading after dinner:)

5. Invest in a few quality picture books. Usborne books has some large, well illustrated and captioned books on history and science. The younger kids and beginning readers can spend a good hour looking through these and studying the pictures. These books are made for little hands and can withstand quite a bit of use.

6. When watching TV or a DVD turn on closed captioning. Seeing the words and hearing them at the same time is good for the brain and an easy way for our struggling readers to get some practice without knowing it.

6. Don't avoid older books or those with a deep vocabulary. Our favorites are Lamplighter books, quality moral literature from the 1700-early 1900s. These have been edited well and really are easy for an adult to read aloud. Hearing these more difficult words will hopefully allow the children to not be overwhelmed by these types of books in the future.

7. Read chapters of the Bible aloud and encourage the children to read it to one another. Modeling the reading of God's word in larger portions is a good reminder to us all that Scripture is a whole book, not just a collection of stories and antidotes. This really is the only book we need and God's gift to us.

I have to admit that Sean is much more consistent at bringing books to center stage in our house. I do implement "resting and reading time" mostly for my own sanity. I make regular trips to the library shushing seven children and sporting a laundry basket in a double stroller. He is the one who is intentional about reading to the children individually or as a family, which is much appreciated. I guess I'll have my turn someday when I have grandchildren.

What are some of your favorite ways to bring literature into your family's life? Better yet, what are some of your family's favorite books?


mom24 said...

Such a GREAT list! And so true. We allow our kids to watch no more than an hour of tv/movie each day (counting computer games) but try to keep them busy enough that they don't even want to ask for that time. I cannot stand looking at my four kids (yes - even the baby does this) and seeing blank stares and hanging open mouths in front of the tube! But to see them quietly leafing through books puts my heart at ease.
This list alone is one reason that homeschooled kids have an advantage too!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it's the influence of Aunt Cathy that has given him such focus on and love of reading? Deb and I were talking about this the other day...any time Aunt Cathy has a child with her (or any other person, for that matter), she picks up something, anything, and reads. The other day, she picked up something at the funeral home and read it to Zeke (to which he pronounced, "THE END" when she finished...so cute!) I have wonderful memories of her reading novels to Uncle Mike while we were on road trips in the car, and of her reading to all of us and our children, for that matter. In any event, we were talking about how much we truly value Aunt Cathy's love of reading, and her steadfastness in instilling this love in the rest of us without being at all pushy. What a joy she is in our lives.

busymomof10 said...

Great ideas! We have always included new books as birthday and Christmas gifts and over the years have built quite a library, especially with help from the grandparents. I think modeling is also important -- our children will copy what they see us do -- whether it is reading, "playing" on the "puter", or watching TV. I've read aloud to my children for years, currently during lunchtime. So, I"m off here now and off to read while they munch! Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great post! It was neat to see that your family likes Lamplighters too! We just discovered them a couple years ago. Some of our other favorites are Treasure Island and The Chronicles of Narnia. We also like to read great biographies and historical fiction that we find using our Truthquest history guide.
I love your idea about having a reading/ resting time. I think we'll start implementing this in our family.
Jenny in OH

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Great suggestions! I iwll look into the Lamplighter books.

any suggestions on good books for character lessons?

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Oh - love the new look - great job!