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Years ago we ditched Disney shows for reading together as a family and haven’t turned back. It started with our firstborn when we noticed she would scream if we took away her “show”. This was a disturbing reality that we were imparting our screen addictions onto her at such a young age and we had to reverse it if we didn’t want her sucked in like we were.
We knew we were the sum of our inputs and our kids are no different.
At first we began reading chapter books together to simply make our kids “smarter” (whatever that would mean), but after a while, it became glaringly clear that the family culture it was instilling in our home was more than life changing.
Beyond increasing vocabulary and attention span, reading classical literature even if many of the words you can’t understand, typically feature well-developed characters facing intricate moral dilemmas.
It gave us the best opportunity to discuss moral themes with our children and share our own past and current experiences for the things we’re all going through as people. This shared experience has allowed us to impart our own values and engage in meaningful conversations about morality.
There have been times we have burst out laughing or even cried together as a family during pivotal plot moments. There isn’t a day now where our kids aren’t asking when reading time is which is wild. We all can’t wait to continue the story the next day and after posting a video detailing 20 of our favorite books, we got hundreds of comments wanting to know more with questions like…
“When do you read?”
“My kids won’t sit still!”
And today we’re here to answer those.
First off, I’m going to be brutally honest because I actually want to help. Now not always, but most likely if you give your kids fast paced screens throughout the week and sit them down to read a story like Chronicles of Narnia let’s say…
They are going to run for the hills and you might say to yourself…
“I tried reading these books and my kids got bored.”
The #1 thing our family had to do to give our kids an insatiable love of literature is cut out screens. I’ll save how we did that and why for another video, but just keep that in mind.
The first thing you have to know is kids are kids and even if they are raised Amish or if you went through a period of Bluey (we’ve all been there), they will be restless sometimes especially if they are 5 and younger.
So the best thing to do is read to them while they are quietly occupied. We do this at breakfast and lunch or with playdough or a craft.
The second tip I have is to always have a book on hand. At any one given time we are reading at least 2-3 books to switch it up. So we will do one book at breakfast, one at lunch, and maybe one after dinner. We just read a couple pages and the best part is we talk about what we are learning throughout the day.
I’ll always bring a book to the park while they are eating their snack.
The next tip is to choose books based on your kids interest. For instance, my child is obsessed with cowboys and indians right now. We got a ton of books talking about the prairie days and the frontier.
If you don’t know what books to pick, you can find my list of the best Charlotte Mason classic books that kids love here.
More tips below in the frequently asked questions section!
Breakfast: 3-6 pages of Door In The Wall while the kids eat their food. I highly recommend this book! It got my 7 year old into whittling and has such a deep meaning behind the words. We are always trying to find the metaphors presented in these books or what we say is the “deeper meaning”. We also read a Proverbs of the day.
*I either wait to eat my breakfast to time it right or skip it
Homeschool morning time: The kids choose one poem from this book before they start school. My 7 year old and I are slowly reading Old Yeller (again, highly recommended!!). I’ve found it’s 100x better to use a book thats interesting vs a “Barbie’s Dreamhouse” book per say. If she doesn’t know a word, I’ll tell her and we do every other page to keep the plot moving. As in, she reads one page, then I read the next.
Lunch: 3-6 pages of The Apple & The Arrow.
Dinner: None- we talk as a family
Bible time before bed: We are currently going through this book. It has Bible pictures which keeps the kids engaged.
What is “reading aloud”?: If you’re like us, we had no clue what this meant. From our understanding now it is more of a homeschool term, but it’s still life changing for those with kids in school. It’s basically reading a chapter book to your kids (without pictures) oftentimes when they busy themselves by doing something with their hands (knitting, playdough, painting, eating…anything really). It introduces them to vocabulary beyond their age level and fills their minds with intricately formed plots detailing characters facing moral dilemmas we all go through. The BEST part is that it bonds us all as a family in the best way!
My kids won’t sit still at 2 & 3 years old!: I didn’t start reading lengthy chapter books until the oldest was 5 years old. I’m still singing “wheels on the bus” 3! Ha. BUT what I wish I did differently was to introduce more timeless classics for toddlers and less what’s called “twaddle” aka “Barbie’s Dreamhouse”. Here is a great list.
What if they are in school?: I’d still 100% read aloud! I would choose to do it was a family time with dessert (make it fun!) or with a handicraft at night. Let them choose the genre!
My kids think reading aloud is boring: This can be difficult if they have been conditioned to entertain themselves in otherways, but I believe anything is possible. As long as you model a love of learning and reading AND they aren’t on screens too much, then choosing a topic that they would love to read about is key. Another tip would be to entice them with “tea time” (aka tea sandwiches, a tea of their choice etc.) and read during that time. Even if they are 10/11 years old, this would be fun to do. I would then read a couple pages of an amazing book and I promise once you all get through one great book, they will want to do it again. Lastly, don’t overwhelm them. If they are small just a couple of pages at meal time will pique their interest. Try to end on a good note and if they start to get fidgety say “We will leave the rest for tomorrow!”
There are many words they don’t understand. Do I stop to explain them?: We follow the Charlotte Mason guidance on this and she believed that word meanings would be picked up through context (which has been 100% true for my 7 year old). “When a child is reading, he should not be teased with questions as to the meaning of what he has read, the signification of this word or that; what is annoying to older people is equally annoying to children. Besides, it is not of the least consequence that they should be able to give the meaning of every word they read. A knowledge of meanings, that is, an ample and correct vocabulary, is only arrived at in one way—by the habit of reading”
Read Aloud Revival: Bi-weekly podcast that will get you super motivated about reading aloud to your kids!
Enchanted Hour: This was the book I read before diving deep into reading classical literature to my children.