Sunday, 29 July 2012

A good book

My children love to read...all of them.  We've read to them since they were quite young.  And not just board books either.  I remember reading novels, biographies, and non-fiction science books to my son from the time he was 2 months old - about the time when I thought I would go mad if I read The Cat in the Hat one more time, as our in-house library had about five children's books in it.

It doesn't take too much to motivate my children to listen to books.  I confess that my son hesitated to read books on his own, likely because he was forced to read a book aloud to us daily when he was in Grade 1 and Grade 2.  Now that the pressure is off, he loves to hunker down with a good book.  The picture from last week with the light on in a tent - that's my son reading in the late hours of the evening.

While I do take the time to read to the children on those hot, sweltering days, we also do a couple of things to fit reading into our schedules:

  ~ I read novels to the children while they are doing the nightly dishes.  The benefits are three-fold - there is no fighting, we get plenty of reading, and the dishes get done...eventually.  The downside is that they get so absorbed in the story that they forget to do dishes.

  ~ I also read novels to the children when we go on family road trips.  Last summer, we took a month-long vacation and trekked half-way across the country.  There were some awfully long days on that trip, and I would read to them until I went hoarse.  It was on this trip that we fell in love with the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.

  ~ Occasionally, we will get audio books.  The best hit by far was Stuart McLean's Vinyl Café stories.  We could listen to them on repeat over and over again, and the hilarious stories never get old.  These are great for adults and kids alike.  Another great one geared towards kids, but in a calm, peaceful way is Sparkle Stories.

  ~ I ask the older children to read to their little sister, especially when I'm making supper.  For my son, this means reading the words.  For my daughter, this usually means reading the pictures or going from memory.  She is just starting to read on her own, and we find that reading the pictures helps a great deal when it comes to reading the words.  The pictures provide additional context and clues for guessing a word she may be stuck on.

  ~ During the summer, our library holds a contest based on the amount of time spent reading.  The more minutes read, the more chances to win prizes.  Our children are big on prizes, so when we finish a book, there's a race to the fridge to mark off how long we read for.

  ~ We read fictional stories based on activities we will be doing.  On that long road trip last summer, we planned to tour the Plains of Abraham.  We read The Death of My Country before our visit, and it helped connect head, hands and heart to the history of the site.  Similarly, we are reading the Anne of Green Gables series and No Safe Harbour in preparation for an upcoming trip to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

  ~ We work hard to bring home and encourage our children to select "good books".  You know the kind.  If you think you're going to fall asleep after 5 minutes, it's not a "good book".  For us, the dummied-down books based on movies or TV shows fit in the category of not a "good book".  If the book holds your interest and your child's, it's a good book.  All the ones listed above have been good stories for our children.

Happy reading!

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