Reconnecting through Reading

Welcome to the March Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Discovering through BooksThis post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. This month our participants have investigated what role books have played in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

42 of 365 ~ Storytime

Photo by Tanya Little

Ours is a family of bibliophiles. We drag books home from the library. We have our own family library of our favorite books. We review advanced copies of books from authors and publishers. Many of our family jokes are based on books. We read…a LOT! While you will often find one or more fo us curled up with a good book, we also read as a family. Many reasons are given for reading as a family.:

  • Being read to is the most important reading instruction your child can receive. Rather than forced reading instruction methods which often hinder the process and are forced on many children before they are ready, children who are read to are more equipped to pick up a book and read. Children from literary homes will learn to read without any formal instruction.
  • Reading aloud to a child builds vocabulary and proper grammar, improving not only their reading but also their language skills and communication.
  • Reading aloud stimulates a child’s imagination, fostering creativity and critical thinking skills simultaneously. Books provide a jumping point for pretend play and continued adventures, a key component of not only creative thinking but also of intellectual and emotional growth. Children who spend a lot of time in pretend play learn social and communication skills by co-operating with others in the game.
  • Reading as a family provides automatic shared experiences. Our young family has hundreds of jokes and catch phrases, all extracted from books.
  • Reading aloud introduces other cultures, other experiences, and various topics of discussion. We have had many great discussions based on what we have read.
  • Reading isn’t just for kids who can sit still. Many children may wish to play with small toys or work on a craft while listening to you read.

Finally, no matter what kind of day we have had, no matter my mood or what stress life holds, at the end of the day (or the middle depending on when we are reading), I know that I can snuggle up with my children, pull out our current chapter book, and reconnect with them. It’s our own version of the old adage “Don’t go to bed mad.” “Don’t go to bed without reading.” I can definitely see a difference on those days when we didn’t make time for reading right before bed the night before, regardless of how much we read during the day.

New to reading chapter books with your kids? You might want to check out Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition.

Visit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

    • Books and Play — MudpieMama at The Positive Parenting Connection is sharing a fun play based activity that enhances reading comprehension, vocabulary and attention.
    • Using Literature to Talk with Your Child About Money — Pam from The MoneyTrial Blog shares her 12 favorite stories to initiate conversations about money with your child.
    • Reconnecting Through Reading — Reading aloud with our children has its many rewards, from increased vocabulary and reading skills to creative thinking and problem solving skills. At Living Peacefully with Children, reading is also a time to reconnect at the end of the day.
    • It’s a Book Party — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares a fun way she encourages reading at her house.
    • The Importance of Storytelling — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses the importance of storytelling as well as how to select a book worthy of reading with your young child.
    • How to Raise a Bookworm — Becky at Old New Legacy shares ideas and experiences in her attempt to raise a bookworm.
    • The Joy of Books — Carrie @ LoveNotesMama shares her enthusiasm and adoration for the joys and gifts that children’s books bring.
    • Books, Have They Become Obsolete?  — Laura at Authentic Parenting investigates wether there’s still room for books in this modern world of internet and digital readers.
    • Books and Unschooling a Preschooler  — Lauren at Hobo Mama follows her four-year-old’s lead through mummies, digestion, and whale sharks.
    • How Books Help Us Live and Learn  — Sheila of A Living Family describes how, more than helping her children learn to read, books help her family live and learn together.
    • Once Upon a Time, There Was a Princess With a Career Plan…  — Helen @ zen mummy wonders how – and if – the tales our children hear influence their future

bedtime is relative…

We don’t have a bedtime at our house. For us, bedtime is literally just the time someone goes to bed. There is no arbitrary time for us. We’ve encouraged our children to listen to their bodies and point out cues that we notice in order to help them recognize those signs that their bodies are tired.

Our second child was born not too long after we moved here. A coworker of my husband’s asked him what time our kids went to bed. At the time, they were generally going to bed around midnight. She exclaimed how horrible we were to keep our newborn and two year old up so late. She couldn’t understand that bedtimes are relative. Our children didn’t have to be up early to go to daycare. They were expressing their own rhythms, which just so happened to allow them more time with their father after work.

Over the years, we’ve noticed that our children seem to have patterns. We will fall into a pattern for a while, going to bed around the same time for a few weeks. Then something will change and the pattern will shift. We’ve gone to bed as early as 9 PM for a few weeks and as late as 1 AM regularly. Neither extreme generally lasts for long, and they find themselves reverting back to going to bed sometime between 10 PM and 11 PM.

I’m certain there will be wider shifts as they get older. I’m glad that we have the flexibility to accomodate their needs and to encourage them to listen to their bodies.

bedtime is no longer a one person job…

For 7 1/2 years, I was exclusively in charge of bedtime. Bedtime at our house is a relative term. It describes the time we go to bed, rather than describing a certain time of the day. There is no set bedtime at our house. When little people start to get tired, we start getting ready for bed. We generally brush teeth, get the last drinks for the day, nurse, snuggle, and read chapter books. For the past 7 1/2 years, I’ve been the one to help get the last drinks, help with any toothbrushing, nurse and snuggle, and read the books.

I can’t say that I’ve really ever resented the fact that my husband hasn’t been involved with bedtime. I’m certain there was a time or two when I was drained and wished he would take over. However, I honestly just accepted it. My husband doesn’t nurse the kids, and his needs haven’t seemed in line with ours. While he likes to relax while watching the television, the kids and I need quiet and prefer to enjoy a good book. Bedtime by myself was easier.

In the past month, something changed. My husband suggested changing something about bedtime, and I think I went off on him. I told him he couldn’t have any say in our bedtime routine because he wasn’t involved with it. I pointed out that in 7 1/2 years, he had never been in charge of helping the kids at bedtime and if he wanted to watch television, he was welcome to go downstairs and stay out of bedtime.

That night, he picked up a book and began reading at bedtime. He has read every night since then. Sometimes we trade off after chapters. It’s nice to have a partner at bedtime while the kids are still young. The kids get to listen to another voice reading besides my own. They get to see their loving, involved father at bedtime. When my hands are full nursing a baby and toddler, we still get to listen to someone reading. Best of all, my husband seems more peaceful at bedtime now. He has gone from groaning at hearing us read at bedtime, to looking forward to reading for an hour or more with us each evening. Where I think he used to feel left out of part of our lives, he is now joining in.