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