Back at the brick & mortar “Lehi House” I would take weekly trips to the library with the kids. We’d listen to story time, check out a handful of new books, maybe read one or two while we were there and be one our way. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look at those books until the next time we went to the library and repeated our routine. The kids read them at night while they were winding down for sleep, but I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I actually sat down with them to read. I think it took Andrew & I at least six weeks to go through one Secrets of Droon book, and there were a few we never actually finished.
Somehow, somewhere along this most recent journey of ours, a light bulb turned on in their little brains and now I can’t get books fast enough for them. There are three factors I contribute to the voraciousness with which our kids now devour books. Whether it was purely by accident, or some genius, subconscious parenting move on our part, we are definitely happy with the outcome. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Reading with Our Kids
When we made the trip out East and settled in the “Virginia House” (as we now call it) Sam decided that in order for him & Rachel to reach their goal of finishing the Book of Mormon before her baptism they really needed to start reading. A lot. So, every evening after Cara was in bed, the two of them would sit down and read for about 30 minutes. After about a week, Andrew started getting jealous and asked if WE could read something together instead of me just putting him to be early. “Oh,” I thought. “Why not?” Best decision I ever made.
Andrew & I started consuming books together. It helps that his reading skills have vastly improved over the last 6 months. He’s definitely reading on at least a 1st grade if not 2nd grade level at age 6. We plowed through at least a dozen Secrets of Droon books and we both looked forward to the evenings when we would read together.
Fast forward to life in the Airstream. Cara goes to bed at 7:30pm and the other two at 8:30pm, but they all share the same room. Naturally, we need to be semi-quiet after Cara’s gone to bed so she’ll fall asleep before the other two climb back there about an hour later. What do you do with 2 kids in 188 sq feet when you need to be fairly quiet? You read! This time we switched kids. I started reading books like Ella Enchanted, Wizard of Oz, and Chronicles of Narnia with Rachel, while Sam got a turn reading Secrets of Droon & Harry Potter with Andrew. We love it. Where before it seemed like a chore to sit down and read with my kids, now it is something we all look forward too. Do we ready EVERY night without fail? Of course not. Sometimes we’ll play a game, or the kids will all stay up late watching a movie, but I’d say at least 5 nights a week we read.
2. The Kindle
The second factor I credit with helping our kids become great readers is the Kindle. Its fascinating to an 8 and 6 year old. They would read just to be reading on the Kindle because it was THAT cool. I have an older one we purchased years ago, and Santa brought me a new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas so now we have two. If I’m not particularly engrossed in a book, I’ll let them both pick a book and use their own device. Otherwise they just have to take turns.
How do we get new books? Most public libraries have subscribed to some sort of Overdrive system where you can borrow digital library books. Amazon Prime also lets you borrow 1 book for free each month (Harry Potter is our current on-loan book). Having lived in two different states, we have library cards for both Utah and Virginia which is convenient because each library limits the number of borrowed books to 5. We also have a collection of physical Roald Dahl books (Christmas present from Grandma), some Secrets of Droon, and other Princess or Marvel stories we’ve collected. Most of the time, however, I can’t get new books on the Kindle fast enough. They’ll easily go through some of the shorter chapter books in a few hours.
3. Sheer Boredom
This is the best one. When our kids have nothing else to do and I won’t let them play the tablet or watch a movie, I casually suggest they read. Most of the time they’ll take me up on it. They will also bring books in the car and read as we drive (thankfully they don’t get car sick). The sheer lack of anything else interesting to do often motivates them to turn to a book. Perfect.
Reading with our kids has turned them into great readers. Whether the books are digital or physical, done out of sheer boredom or because they love whatever book they’re reading I’m grateful for it.