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:
I 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.