Monday, April 6, 2015

A Love of Reading

I didn't love reading as I was growing up. There were a few series I read as a child, but it wasn't something that gave me that much enjoyment. School-assigned books were tortuous for me. I skimmed them, barely understood them, and got by enough to pass the tests. But as an adult, just in the past 2-3 years, I've discovered how much I LOVE reading! I really think I probably read a total of only maybe 10 books for pleasure from ages of 18-38. I finally had some time to read in the past couple of years, and I've been re-reading old books, reading 'classics' for the first time, reading non-fiction and fiction, and I usually have 3-5 books I'm reading at a time these days (usually it's a mix of a kid book that I'm trying to evaluate, a parenting/inspirational book, a fiction book for myself, a non-fiction book for myself,and often a read-aloud with my kids).

I look back and wonder, why did I not read for so many years of my life (and only read what I was assigned back in my school days) and I wonder, how can I nurture a love of reading in my own kids?

Bunny is an avid reader, but Monkey is not. He'll read comics or 'goofy kid' books like the My Weird School series or Captain Underpants, but that's hardly great literature. I want them to experience the vast assortment of worlds they can escape to through books. I want them to soak in fascinating facts about the world around them! I want them to see other points of view and people in different circumstances, to see beyond their own world.

We started reading to our kids when they were babies. Even though they didn't understand anything, we read to them. Every night, before bed, we read something after our Bible reading and prayers. The would ask for the same books, over and over. As they got older, we continued to read to them, adding in more complex books, beyond what they could read on their own, and now we give them 30 minutes to read on their own each night before bed (assuming it's not an especially late night for some reason). Sometimes we still read aloud, as reading aloud is one of our favorite family pastimes.  I love that they can hear stories that are beyond their reading level, and I think it motivates them to improve their reading so they can read these more advanced books.

One great thing about homeschooling is we can fill our learning with living books, not dry textbooks. If they don't seem too interested at first with the books assigned for the week, I read them out loud, and usually it's enough to pique their interest and they will continue reading the rest on their own.  I think maybe if I had learned through living books, maybe I wouldn't have hated reading so much as a kid!