Bedtime Stories and Motivation

Monday, March 3, 2014

I'm a book person. I grew up in a house full of books, and I believe that atmosphere influenced me all the way into adulthood. I had plenty of books, my parents encouraged me to read, and I did. I still do.

No surprise, I was one of those conscientious young moms. I read to my babies, the same board books over and over again. They show the wear. Occasionally, I hid Goodnight Moon. It's true. But I was diligent about reading because it was part of their bedtime routine. And after my first son was colicky and the second didn't really love to sleep either, the Lord knows that I would have read to them while walking across hot coals if it had meant sleep. Reading to them was pleasurable, but more importantly, it worked to get them settled down and ready for bed.

As they've got older, the boys don't "need" a story to fall asleep. We still read, but I'll admit that my motivation has waned. I want them to love reading, of course. But by the end of the day, I'm tired. My husband is tired. And one can only take so many "Learning to Read" Lightening McQueen and Veggie Tales plotless rhyming shorts. Thankfully, I recently discovered The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.
It lays out a convincing argument (backed by years of research) that reading aloud to our children is the single-most important thing we can do for their development and education. It is more important than any class, any after-school activity, any "educational" game or video, anything. Parents who read aloud can be the difference maker for a child's school experience, and certainly for their desire and ability to read on their own, later on. The building of vocabulary and the exposure to new and different ideas through books at home cannot be replicated or replaced by anything teachers do at school. They will never have the time or resources to influence your child in the way that YOU can. Mr. Trelease makes the point that parents spend way more time with their children than anyone else. We should use it. He also advises that reading aloud should not end once a child can read on his own. It is something we should do with our kids until they kick us out of their bedrooms completely.

Consider me convinced.

Reading with the boys is now a priority for me, and (believe it or not) a lot more fun. On Wednesday, I'll share some of my favorite ideas or tips for how to enjoy the reading aloud time. For now, I'd love to know: Do you have a reading routine with your kids? How do you stay motivated?

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2 Responses to “Bedtime Stories and Motivation”

  1. Awesome blog! Heartiest congratulations.

  2. Love this post! I totally understand the exhaustion part, and it might not be everyday. But I love alternating chapters with Betsy. And we are reading books I enjoyed as a child. This makes me more motivated for the boys!