Quotes About Books That Are All Too True
July 16, 2016
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July 20, 2016
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The O.K. Corral

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O.K. It’s time. Time to Corral five boys all under ten years old together to read. Remember parkour from some years back? That’s what my house looks like whenever I try to rally my five boys together. Watching them make it to their designated place is quite the process. It usually goes something like this: crawling army style across the floor, somersaulting over a toy (excuse me, “land mine”) that’s in the middle of the floor, giving a younger brother a boost up onto the couch, crouching on the game cabinet behind, which is for the moment a trench or pirate ship, jumping and twisting down to the ground, growling or grunting or chanting sports mottos, only then to tear under a blanket and up to a pillow and lay so patiently and sweetly – waiting for Mommy to start “a story”.

And we Roar Our Terrible Roar, troll through the Hundred-Acre-Wood, vote on the most believable voice for a fawn and laugh and cry and take breaks to tickle.

At least most of the time.

Sometimes, the boys can’t stop giggling, wiggling, asking for snacks and asking questions. Sometimes the questions are about the book. Sometimes it’s a sports rule. Sometimes it’s why Pluto isn’t a planet anymore. Is that just boys? Or five kids in a bed? Or children under ten?

Sometimes we stop and answer all the questions at once. Sometimes we grab snacks before we begin – then at least their mouths are full and they can’t ask questions! Sometimes I make the boys “take a lap” or do some push-ups to burn extra fuel. Sometimes we stop and act out a scene.

But once we are all back in it, and ready to go, all of us slip into Coon hunting amid the Red Ferns, wandering with Milo through a Tollbooth, longing for Aslan to return. What is better than that? It’s famously quoted that “children are made readers in the laps of their parents”. And while I am indeed working to have my children be “readers”, I can’t think of a more wonderful time than when we are all cuddled up together and experiencing the laughs and tears and lessons that a wonderful book can give.

I am fortunate enough to know families where parents love to read and have passed that along to their children. Are you hoping to do this, too? Here are some tips I’ve learned from some of the best:

  1. Make it fun!! Ever noticed that movie-watching almost always lends to blankets and comfortable seating and ambient lighting and snacks? Do this with reading! A cup of hot cocoa, a crackling fire, a comfy blanket and sitting in Mama’s lap all help to get even little boys to sit still long enough to realize that Aslan is just as amazing as Captain America.
  2. Make it fun! (Did I say that?) Read GREAT books. Don’t stick to a list that your curriculum handed out, or push through a dreadfully boring book, at least not with YOUNG, young kids. Let them learn to love to read, then they can learn to push through something less exciting.
  3. Make it fun! This is a time to draw them in – make it attractive! My older boys will often be playing sports or something and see me reading and come in and ask what I’m doing. I make sure to “sell” them on it. I tell them how exciting it is. I laugh out loud. I cry out loud (no jokes!). I talk about what a great writer so-and-so is. They’ve seen it as attractive, and want to read those stories!
  4. Make it fun! If they have a hard time getting excited by books at their reading level then read out loud to them, something exciting! Don’t be afraid to put a book aside that they aren’t crazy about for a while… there are plenty of books out there to keep them interested. Let the kids quietly color or do puzzles or play with legos while you read books for longer periods. They will pick up more than you think!
  5. Don’t get guilted or pressured into assigning your kids books at the absolute top of their reading level. No one likes to consistently be pushed to the very brink of their capacity. It’s great fun, and arguably just as helpful to our reading ability to read things below our reading level. Let them read some easy things now and again!
  6. Do you have a child who prefers movies to books? Find some movies that were based on books and let them watch the movie once they’ve finished! More often than not they will find that the book was better in the first place. Books 1. Movies 0. Which brings me to my next, and final tip.
  7. Incentivize! A great friend of ours, who is an avid reader, explained it like this: reading is work, at least until it is easy, and adults don’t work for free! Find a way to reward their reading. Some ideas are 100 books for $100; an especially longed for toy after finishing a series like Narnia; I even gave a whole day off school for my 9 year old when he finished the Hobbit. After a job like that I thought he might need a little vacay. The point is, figure out what motivates your young readers and use it! Once reading is easy, it’s no longer work, and they will have fallen in love with words and novels and stories…. but until then, it’s just hard! Make it worth it. And fun. Did I say fun?

Version 2I certainly cannot claim to know everything about this topic, and I heartily agree with Mr. Bingley and Miss Jane Bennett, and wish there was much more time in our lives for reading. What I will say is that we read as a family regularly and the children read more than I did as a kid! The little boys feel like big boys when they get to read with Mommy. The big boys love to tell me what they are reading about. My husband loves reading his childhood favorites over again aloud to all of us, gaining a deeper appreciation for the stories that gripped his heart decades ago.

So, corral them together! Get some energy out before you start! Cozy up with snacks and as charming a setting as you can muster! Let them talk sometimes! Take a break! Read GREAT books! Make it fun, fun, fun! Incentivize! You’ll find yourself in Wonderland in no time.

I’m a converted reader. If you read that with a tone of confession, you’d be hearing it exactly as I intended. I could count on one hand the number of books I read cover-to-cover after sixth grade. I had mastered the ability to score at least a B - a grade I was happy with - on exams and book reports without actually reading them. That is a statement that should raise the alarm of any parent/teacher hoping their students are absorbing all those precious words. But then I found a love for reading. Read more about me here