Our family loves to read. We all enjoy personal and individual reading, but we also love our family reading time (almost) every night. We’ve been reading aloud since our children were babies. Yes, we read to them even before they were really old enough to “understand”. Rosie Girl has always been willing to sit and listen to someone read. Wild Man, though, would often crawl off while I was reading to him. I used to read to him while he was in his high chair or in the bathtub, telling him, “All the books say I should read to you, so I’m going to read to you!” Once the kids got to school age, PWM would read the “school” books to the kids during the day and we would read the Bible and a read-aloud (from the Sonlight curriculum) at night. The children are 13 and 16 and still look forward to read-aloud time every night. We often finish the Sonlight read-aloud earlier than scheduled, so we’ve added in lots of other books – the Narnia series, the Septimus Heap series, the Artemis Fowl series, and (of course) the Harry Potter series.
Reading aloud has lots of advantages.
- It’s a scheduled “together” time for the family. We don’t always eat dinner together because of schedules, but we try to make sure we can read together. If we aren’t going to be together at bedtime, PWM will often read to us during the day.
- Wild Man had a hard time learning to read because of his dyslexia. However, once he could decode words, he didn’t have much trouble at all with comprehension and all the other things that kids learn as they read, because we had been reading aloud and talking to each other about our books.
- We have a shared “family culture” from reading the same books. We often laugh about things that remind us of something that happened in a book we read.
- Especially when the kids were young, reading aloud was great to help them wind down and get ready for bed.
This year, I’m having a more interesting time coming up with books to read. Until 2 years ago, the kids were using the same Sonlight Core, so we would read the read-alouds from that Core. For the last two years, we’ve been reading the read-alouds from Wild Man’s Core (American History and then Eastern Hemisphere). This year, though, Wild Man is going to be studying weapons and warriors, so I don’t have a read-aloud list. I got a set of books called the Rani series from Sonlight that look like they’ll be fun. I’m also going to have use read some of the Core 6/7 books but also add in some of Rosie Girl’s Core 300 books. We haven’t done C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy books, yet, so I might include those.
We’ve also decided that we aren’t going to read a read-aloud and then Bible at night. The kids both have Bible reading and study to do during the day and we were finding that the Bible reading was getting pushed to the side so we could read more of the read alouds. In addition, we weren’t really getting into much discussion about the Bible reading. So, we’re changing things up. We’re going to read a read-aloud (i.e. fiction) until we finish the book and then read a book about faith or the Bible. We’ve started with Matthew Paul Turner’s What You Didn’t Learn From Your Parents About Christianity. This is a rather light-hearted look at our faith, and we’re having a great time with it. Tonight, we talked about our earliest mental pictures of Jesus. The kids are really engaging it, and we’re having some good discussions. Eventually, we want to read The Ragamuffin Gospel, Know What You Believe, and The Jesus I Never Knew. If some of the books are hard to get through, we’ll either put them off till the kids are a little older, or we’ll read a couple of chapters and then read a novel, and then come back to the non-fiction.
What does your family enjoy reading? Any suggestions for me to put on our read-aloud list for this year? And, if you don’t read aloud as a family, maybe this year is a good time to start!