Posted in Keystone Magazine Articles
by Barbara Smith
There is no greater pleasure for a family than to all be huddled around the fire on a cold, wet and miserable winter’s night, milo in hand, listening to Dad reading aloud a good book.
I read on an email list once that we should be reading aloud to our children at least two hours a day. Yes, you read that correctly — two hours a day.
I took up the challenge on this and have been able to find all sorts of time for reading aloud to the children. I read to them while they are doing the dishes (less arguments), doing their handwriting, playing with lego, colouring in or doing art projects. Genevieve (20) loves Craig to read to her while she is sorting the washing. Genevieve gets Charmagne (13) to read to her while she is sewing. Genevieve reads to Charmagne while Charmagne plaits her hair. I read as we travel in the van.
We find we achieve the goal of at least two hours a day if we follow these helpful tips:
1. I find that if we are reading a series of books, they just flow on from each other. It is also good to have a pile of books that we just need to get through. If I do not have another book lined up when I finish the current one, there are a lot of other things that demand my attention, and I am likely to tell the children to go on with the dishes for just this one time. However this “one time” usually stretches into several times.
2. Some books are hard to read aloud because of difficult names in them. One book in particular we struggled through until we realised the problem. There were two characters with names very similar, although one was the good guy and the other was the bad guy. Charmagne thought that I was just mispronouncing the one name so was gettting very confused. Craig then suggested that we write up the names on card and write the characteristics under each name. This is great for a book with a lot of characters and for books with difficult names. We even managed to find a book doing this for us for JRR Tolkien’s books called The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth: From the Hobbit to the Silmarillion by Robert Foster. It is a detailed glossary of peoples, places and things arranged for convenient reference.
3. Have several books on the go at one time. I read to Charmagne and Jeremiah (8) as they do the dishes, to Genevieve and Charmagne as they are playing cards and to Jeremiah and Jedediah (3) as they play with the Lego or are sitting on my knee. Zach (19) and Alanson (16) join us when Craig is reading in the evenings. During that time hand crafts come out: Genevieve will sew, Zach will be doing is model air planes, Alanson polishing his Air Training Corps (ATC) shoes until they are shining, Charmagne does embroidery and Jeremaih and Jedediah draw until they need to go to bed.
4. Read books of varying difficulty. Read books at the child’s level. But also lift them up and read books that they find challenging to follow. When I am reading to Charmagne and Jeremiah (13 and 8), I’ll first read one book that is easy for Jeremiah. Next I’ll read one that is at Charmagne’s level, challenging Jeremiah. The three-year-old listens to the lot, possibly enjoying my voice more than the meaning, but enjoying hearing the words and getting used to a varied vocabulary at the same time.
I am really enjoying the variety of books. Some of the books the children choose and some I choose because they are books that I would like to read. We are avid book hunters. We can’t walk past a second hand book shop without checking it out. We look for books at the flea market, garage sales, Red Cross Book Sales and Church fairs. The best books in the library can sometimes be found in their “for sale” pile. We make bee-lines to friends’ bookshelves. Dayspring Resource Centre in Palmerston North now has a good number of books which can be borrowed by home educators from anywhere in New Zealand. Until recently we had book shelves wherever we could fit them in our home and lots of books still in boxes. Over the holidays Genevieve has set up a library for us in a former junk/storage room at the end of the garage. We finally have a library of our own (and a whole lot less junk!!) with no books in boxes. We even have space for… more books! The children still have all their own books in their own rooms. With all these books we still get lots of books out of the city library and the National library.
The way to give your children a love of reading is to read to them. So are you ready to take up the challenge to read to your children at least two hours a day?:
From Keystone Magazine
January 2001, Vol. VII No. 1
Editor: Craig Smith
PO Box 9064
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax (06) 357-4389