Raising Readers

Books will always hold a sacred space in our household. When I think about moving the first thing I dread is the weight of all those boxes filled to the flaps with mysteries, adventures, love stories, and more. Yet with each move, every book comes along. I couldn’t imagine leaving them behind. Now that we are a homeschooling family my husband and I have used it as permission to build our library even greater. As an added bonus, the longer we stay in the military, the higher the weight allowance for moving!

With this constantly expanding library we run into a couple of problems.

 

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Reading Rider Woofstein and answering questions on Little Einsteins at the same time. 

Where do I put these books?

How do I contain them out of the bookshelves?

What sort of limits do we put on consuming?

How do I walk across this floor without tripping on books?!

In our imaginations we have a large bookcase room with a lovely ladder hung on the brass tubing that wraps around. We can climb up like Belle from Beauty and the Beast to retrieve old friends. Our shelves are a smooth wood and the chairs are a soft place to sit for a spell. The lighting is natural and the air is redolent of many years of sitting with a good book. The time seems to stop in his haven from the world. There are no kids needing a nap, no dog needing a walk. Just lap kitties, a cup of tea, and a good book or two…or three for the day.

Reality isn’t as kind. I’ve got two little movers and 3 fur babies. The lighting is harsh and the chair probably has more than a few banana stains on it. My “to read” pile is much higher than ever before and my ambitions haven’t learned to slow. Our kids have inherited this trait and their book piles seem to compete for height with the kids themselves. Loading up in the car with a toddler always takes time but when your kid proclaims “I’ll just get some books for the ride!” and hauls an armload into the car yet forgets their shoes you know you have a reader.

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Family cuddles in the hammock with a good book read aloud.

Raising readers is an effort of love and patience. We started reading to our children before they could even crawl. It didn’t matter what we read at first. They just experienced sitting with someone and reading. They heard the voice and listened to the words. They saw the value we placed on the experience. They also felt the calm as it was part of their wind-down time at bed. In addition to adding books to their day, we also made sure that we reduced other stimulus. It is hard to compete with kids cartoons. Flashy screens and catchy songs are hard to beat when you are little.

Books are always available for our children. Even the most reluctant child will eventually pick up a book if that is the way your home is setup. We keep a small pile in the car for each child to grab. We have bathroom readers and kitchen table readers. We don’t have a television in the car so when the kids get bored they can look out the window, nap, talk, or read. Early on the kids discovered that those books sitting beside them were a whole lot more fun than sitting in the quiet. To organize things we have a book basket downstairs and a pile next to the bed. I keep a bin in the car and regularly take those books in and rotate out. Books don’t go long without a good read when they are available. Having a comfortable place to read, examples of reading as part of the daily routine, and access to books is all you need to raise readers.

 

Library trips with our kids are an effort in both parental patience and child-led learning. Each of our kids has their own book bag which they get to load up with treasures. Around 3 our oldest figured out the Dewey Decimal System basics and could use the computer catalog. Now that he is four he will type in a name of a book and then pull it himself. He even got upgraded to a backpack since the books were pulling him over in a shoulder bag. He made a big deal of this graduation and loves to put on his backpack for the trip. Each library trip we ask them to pick out books that look interesting or fun. We also try to pick out books that expand their world and heart. The Give Your Child The World book has been a perfect fit for that. Even on days that I haven’t had the most successful day with traditional homeschool materials, our books on the world have filled their minds with so much. A day with a book is never a wasted day.

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Empowering children with the simple gift of a book is one of the greatest things you can do as a parent. Sadly not all children have access to books or people to read to them. The idea of a child growing up without books just breaks my heart. Thankfully Dolly Parton has stepped up to provide free books to children all over the country.  I love the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The program aims to ensure that every child who wants a book can have one regardless of income.

Storage for those of us lucky to indulge our bookworm nature can be a tricky and expensive problem. We have sacrificed our hallway space to rows of bookcases. Even with an entire hallway lined with books, a closet full, and more around the rest of the house, we still have boxes of them in our attic. I think they are secretly breeding. We did a large donation and sell off while using the Marie Kondo Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was good but I still wish I hadn’t needed to let them go. Some books just become family. They hold the promises, hopes, dreams, desires, love, and goals that we have for ourselves.

Until our library is wrapped in maple wood, we will be found on the sofa or hammock, or table, or in the car with a good book or three. Share a book with a child today and see where their imagination takes them.

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