If you've been around these parts long enough, you know I am a homeschooling mom and book lover, raising my kids mostly media free.  If you've visited here before, it's easy to see that I am an advocate of raising kids surrounded with books. (And I take many pictures of my kids caught reading, this time my baby with her daddy. Melt my heart!)

I'm a big fan of the advocacy to read to the littles.  In Maine, we have a program called Raising Readers that gives parents an entire bag of books to keep in the hospital and a quality hardcover at well visits. I absolutely love our library, library programs and story hours. I have been to most of the libraries in the county. I'm a fan of Dolly Parton's goals with her imagination library. I love little free libraries. Book sales. Used book stores.  Online shopping for books.  Books. Books. Books. I love them.

At least where I live, reading to the littles is encouraged greatly, which I'm thrilled about.  The next trend, however, I'm not entirely loving.  We read to kids regularly until they get enough skills to read on their own.  Then we encourage/recommend/require them to begin reading to themselves for "at least twenty minutes a day".  I hear often from friends how their kids 'hate' their 20 minute reading and how sad it is that they have a kid who hates to read. Now, I'm all for teaching kids to read on their own and encouraging them to read independently, but I recommend this independent reading to be in addition to shared reading with an adult, not instead of it.

The benefits of reading to/reading with your older kids are many. When kids start to learn to read, their skills aren't fluent enough to read to match their ability to understand.  It can be discouraging and less interesting to be stuck in those early readers. When reading is an assignment, the joy sometimes can lessen.  On the flip side, reading to your kids, even when they are independent readers, is great bonding time as you experience the joy of the adventure the story brings together.  Sometimes as kids get older, they may be less interested in sharing a story or chapter book with their parent, but are there other things you can read together?  Poetry?  Riddles? Jokes? Books about a shared hobby?  Cookbooks?  Current events? Or perhaps you can read the same text on your own and discuss together at designated times, like a book club or a Bible study.

We all get busy, distracted and time flies before we even know it. I believe the power of a good shared book helps my family slow down and enjoy our time together.

If you find yourself schooling your littles at home right now, I highly recommend finding time to dig into a good book together daily. Doesn't need to be a long period of time, just a tiny bit of time daily. A few pages. A chapter.  If you need recommendations on what to pick, I can help out. This time at home together is a good time to start new family traditions. I guarantee you won't regret the habit of reading together.

If you a parent, what have you been reading with your family lately? Or what did you enjoy reading to your littles back in the day?  We've been really enjoying the Dimwood Forest series by Avi lately. 2nd time through it, just as joyful as the first.

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