My oldest child is in the first grade. This school year has been a learning experience for our whole family. Navigating tests, homework for the first time, and most importantly working on his reading fluency. He is expected to read daily. It has been exciting to watch his progression from kindergarten to now, and how much he progressed just from August to Christmas. His reading is a family effort.
We took a “fun family trip” to Barnes & Noble to pick out new books for both kids. Our oldest received a gift card for his recent birthday (shout out to my English teacher friend). Shockingly he didn’t want to look at books and instead kept checking out the toys. What was intended to be fun ended with an ultimatum: we are leaving with new books, so either YOU pick what you want or we will pick for you! The whole experience made me realize that he views reading as work and not fun.
This got me thinking that he never sees us, his parents, reading for fun. Actually, he never sees us reading anything other than children’s books and screens. We have always read to the kids at bedtime, which they enjoy. I actually love to read. Or I use to. When I was 7, I read for pleasure. Highlights magazine, age-appropriate books, etc. I read for pleasure in high school and college. When did I stop? Was it because of the kids? No, it was when social media got big. When I got Facebook, an iPhone, Instagram I traded books for nonsense on screens.
I decided to make the effort to carve out time for something I enjoy. Showing my son that reading is pleasurable was my main motivator. A second motivator was my fellow New Orleans Mom contributors. Many of them have more kids than I do, multiple jobs, and are banging out multiple books a month. I perused the Amazon bestseller list, picked a book, and took the plunge. When my first book arrived, I let my nosy sons open my package. They were amazed by how thick the book was. We had a good conversation about how reading is fun, and how excited I was to read this “really big grown-up book”.
How have I fit in my reading? When my kids are watching their shows, I read instead of playing on my phone. At night instead of half paying attention to reality tv and scrolling my phone, I read a little. I do not work full time, so I often read when the kids are at school. It is important to me that they see me reading. Also, I buy/borrow actual books so that I am not reading on a screen. I know people love the flexibility of reading on devices, but I think it is important for me and the kids to get me off of a screen. It has been a great experience getting back into books. I am glad I took the plunge, and hopefully, my sons are taking notice.