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Slow Reading Family Style

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There came a point in my family when I had 3 children with 3 separate activities on any given day. I was an educated chauffeur who lived most afternoons and early evenings in my car. As our dinner times became later and homework sessions took longer, our family reading time became shorter and shorter.

One night after finishing one of our 15-minute read-aloud sessions, my youngest looked at me and said, “I wish we weren’t so busy so we could just read out loud forever.”

Those words were not lost on this bibliophile mother. Soon after, we cleared the weekly calendar of activities and set a focus in our family to simply, creatively, and slowly live. Letting our afternoons, evenings, and weekends just evolve instead of living by the clock. Soon we placed creative and shared reading at the center of our family time.

A Closer Look at The Next Chapter:

As homework is finished and the dishes are done it’s the moment of the day we’ve all been waiting for, our family book reading time called “The Next Chapter”.  Favorite places to sit and listen are nestled into as snuggly blankets are pulled tightly around.

“I’m first”, one child claims.

“Second”, my hand goes up as the read-aloud spots are dibbed.

It is a daily journey, a ritual to spend time with our favorite authors and with each other. A time to go to places imagined, to meet characters who have become friends or shortly will be. As the book is passed between us, our roles change from listener to reader and back to listener again.

Here in this illumined hour when the sun is gone and the stars have come out of hiding, we take pleasure in coming together as a reading family. It’s not about how quickly we can get through a book or how many accelerated readers points its worth or how well the kids will do on their exams, it’s all about us, the happily ever after reading family.

Creating a Slow Family Reading Moment:

  • Try and choose the same time of day for your family reading session. It doesn’t have to be the exact hour just around the same time of day.
  • Unplug. No cell phones, tv, instant messages, beepers, buzzers or alarm clocks. Basically, anything which makes noise must be off.
  • Be comfortable. Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Make a cozy environment. Bring out your favorite blankets and pillows. Many people like to have beverages such as hot herbal teas, cider, lemonade etc. For ourselves, we also add the element of sitting by the fireplace or fire pit in Autumn through the end of spring and then out onto the screen porch in the summer.
  • Choose a book that everyone in the family can understand and enjoy.
  • Create a system for choosing who will read next. Sometimes my husband or I will start the reading session and then quietly pass the book onto the next child. At first, as your family is young, you will be the primary reader. The fun part is as they start learning to read, they’ll arrive at the day when they too can read a small portion of the read aloud. It’s a great moment. A true right of passage.
  • Discover the perfect amount of reading time for your family. Slow reading isn’t about how much time you spend reading a book but the quality of your reading time spent together. I promise that if you read daily you will one day arrive at the end of the book as a family together.
  • Have a reading time ending the ritual. Just as preparing the environment for reading time happens at the beginning, we also have a closing to our reading time together. My family has created a little mantra which goes something like this: “Now we leave our friends and foes upon the page until we meet again Amen.”  Please note that this is not a religious prayer but my children’s invention of a mantra to end their much-loved story time. After our ending mantra, we pick up our blankets, pillows and such, putting them away until tomorrow.
By slowing down and reading from a place of timelessness and expectations, we create connections with each other. We are enraptured by books that inspire us and our creativity. Though not explicitly, children learn that the love of reading is an enjoyment we all share. There is an old proverb which says: “A fig tree, looking on a fig tree, becomes fruitful.” Children, by participating with their families in reading will grow to love reading for the adventures and insights it holds.
If you’ve read our blog for any amount of time, you know that this family of mine just cannot leave a good story on the page. Making kids books come to life is the second action in our slow family reading plan. It’s about the time we share and create together. This blog is a testament to our book-jumping activities.
Where and When does your family share books?

Until next time here’s wishing you many happy reading moments.

7 thoughts on “Slow Reading Family Style

  1. Our regular routine includes four books before my two-year-old’s bed and naptimes. Otherwise, books tend to be stored by the bookcase and in his room.

  2. I really loved this post. Our family reads together as well, although not often all of us at the same time. We have a wide spread of ages that makes it difficult to keep everyone interested in the same book. We also have the problem that we are all voracious readers, and once we get into a book, someone will surely finish it early reading it to himself. Sometimes I have to hide the family reading book so that doesn’t happen! I truly believe that by reading aloud together we could be totally well educated, without all the extra activities.

    1. We have the same problem here, that’s why I hide the read aloud book. So glad to hear your family enjoys reading together too.

  3. A wonderful article you have written. It is always a delight to see what life the book takes beyond its pages. Animals crafted from felt? Bonnets and shawls worn in play? Adventures in the woods, fields, lake? New words in the family’s vocabulary? A good book has a life of its own.

    We regularly read books aloud, collectively and in our many different combinations.

  4. My parents never read to me! This makes me very sad. In turn, I began reading to my now 6.5 yr old DD while she was in utero 🙂 Since we homeschool, we have several times throughout the day set aside for reading aloud. No matter how tired I am at the end of the day, I always look forward to our bedtime story together.

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