Saturday, January 10, 2009

Parents Roundtable Roundup: What is your reading routine?

Thank you so very very much to everyone who shared your family's reading routine. Here's a roundup of all of the excellent contributions. I definitely learned a lot and am ready to try out many of the shared tips.

Jill (Me): "In our family, I do most of the reading with our daughter. Our favorite reading time is at night after bath time. In the past, she sat on my lap while I read books to her, but now most of the time, we sit in the floor and look through all of her different books. Since her vocabulary is picking up, she prefers to point at and name the things she sees in the illustrations instead of listening to a story read from start to finish. But sometimes when she's playing, I'll sit in the floor and read a book out loud to her."

Teacherninja: "We read mostly at bedtime, 3-5 picture books w/our 5-yr-old daughter. Other times as well, but that's definitely a routine. Just starting some short chapter bks, which she seems to like. We're both teachers so have a ton, but I still take her to the library a couple times a month to check out new stuff and let her pick a few that I wouldn't actually buy. Love the library because you can test the book out and only the buy the ones the kid likes AND you don't mind reading a million times."

Michael (Bent Bindings): "My wife and I trade off putting our five year old daughter to bed, but we both read to her before she goes to sleep. We also give her 5 minutes of reading to herself, too. We've recently started getting into chapter books, with some of the fairy books, The Wizard of Oz, and now The Tales of Despereaux. She's really starting to get into those, and it helps me as a reader, too, because they are books I'm not familiar with, so I'm excited to find out what happens.

We also make frequent trips to the library where she gets to pick out her own books. A tip for you on this one, too. We started the tradition of letting her pick exactly five books. She knows that now, but more importantly, when we're going to find the books the return, we know exactly we have to find. It's been a big help."

Steven (Book Dads): "We read a couple of books every night before bed to our 5 year old son. We have done that without fail since he was adopted at 8 months old, even on vacation and trips we bring bedtime books. Mostly they have been picture books but we are reading some chapter books to him now.

He is in Kindergarten and not yet reading on his own but he is very interested and because his reading skills are slightly behind (in spite of our reading)he is receiving extra help from a reading teacher twice a week. He lover super heroes and recently became interested in comics so we are hoping that will motivate him.

We read at other times too. He will actually turn the tv off unprompted and bring a book or comic to us to read and we try our best to accommodate that. Occasionally we have to ask him to wait because of work that needs doing and hopefully that will also serve as motivation to read on his own."

Daisy (The Laurel Wreath): "Wow, tough question. We are homeschoolers so reading is our life rather than routine. We don't watch tv so we have plenty of time. The nitty gritty looks a bit like this. The children usually read in their beds about an hour each morning before getting up. At each meal, either I or Hubby reads to the children while they finish up. Hubby reads our read-aloud (longer chapter book like Narnia) and Bible readings. I tend to pick poetry, character stories, etc. During the day we read from science, history, literature books. We use whole books to teach these subjects rather than textbooks. We keep books in the car for driving around town. I even have the Burgess Bird book in the glove box for longer waits. The children are allowed to read again for an hour before lights out. We head to the library on Fridays. Hubby and I are voracious readers so the kids just think that's normal. LOL."

Nadine C. Warner (Kiddos and Books): "We read every night, about 3 books, to our 2 year-old and have done so since we adopted him. We rotate the books about every 2 weeks, and usually have at least 1 favorite that we read every night (which helps with memorization and his "reading" to us). We also keep books for him on the 2 lowest shelves of every bookcase so he can grab a book whenever he feels like it. The other routine that we have is to read everything we see outside - store signs, billboards, etc. Oh yeah, and we quote a lot of poetry throughout the day based on whatever we happen to be talking about. Who knew *that* could be so much fun!?"

Boni Ashburn (Life on the Bookshelf): "I have a twelve-year-old and seven-year-old twins. During the summer, we set aside an hour every day when we all read our own books on throw pillows and a picnic blanket in the yard and drink lemonade. But during the school year, we shoot for a half hour weekdays, an hour on weekends. We fit it in most days.

When the kids were younger, they could look at picture books or try out easy readers or look at books of any kind- comics, those DK cross-section books, Richard Scary dictionaries, anything. Now though they have to read "real" books for Reading Time.

At bedtime, I read picture books to them, usually two new ones and maybe an old favorite for a third. We talk about what we liked and didn't like about each one and the discussion has started getting more extensive as they start understanding story structure and characterization and the connection between the text and illustrations. It's definitely our favorite time of the day and I'll keep doing it as long as they'll let me :)"

Dawn (To the Outskirts): "We have a five-year-old and a two-year-old. Our routine includes a morning reading after our walk. This is about 45 minutes long. After lunch we read for about 20-30 min before nap/quite time. During quite time our five year old "reads" on her own. We also read about 4 books before bed. For the most part these are picture books but we have read a few chapter books and once every few weeks we read a Magic Tree House book.

The kids have access to books in just about every room in the house... even the bathroom. We are not bathroom readers but hey, you never know!

We allow our 5 year old to look at any of our books. She loves atlases. We spend a lot of time looking things up in reference books, guide books, etc... We also listen to books on CD or iTunes downloads.

In order to save money I always check the thirft store book racks. Most stores sell kids books for under a dollar."

Lori Calabrese: "I love reading everyone's reading rituals. That time is so important. We have a 3-year old and a 1-year old. My husband and I take turns putting them to bed and reading them about 3 picture books. One of my 3-year olds favorites is All Aboard the DinoTrain by Deb Lund. He knows it by heart and can finish the sentences! I leave books out in their playroom and my 1-year old literally 'eats them up' all day!"

Christine (The Book Bench): "My 5, 8, and 9 year old kids and I take turns choosing chapter books for our family read aloud in my bed at night. Curently, we are in the middle of Pippi Longstocking. I read to them for about 20 minutes before the older kids go to their rooms to read independently until lights out while I read a few picture books to the 5 year old. I also keep a bunch of good books and flashlights in the car to inspire reading on the drives to and from hockey practice, dance class, basketball games, etc.."

Melissa (Book Nut): "For our younger two, we read before bed. Generally, either my husband and I read to both of them (ages 2 1/2 and 5), letting them alternate choosing books, so we end up reading between 4 and 6.

For my second-oldest daughter, I try read to her every night, from about 8 or 8:30 to 9. This sometimes doesn't happen, but she does miss it when it doesn't. We read chapter books that I think would be good read-alouds, that we're both interested in, that I think will need some discussion, or that are above her reading level. Then she's allowed to read for a half hour or so on her own before bed.

My oldest, age 12, sometimes listens in when I read aloud, but we haven't actively read to her since she was halfway through 3rd grade and she decided she couldn't wait until the next day to know how the story went. So, she picked up the book and finished it on her own."

Clemencia (Storytime and More): "About the reading routine, most of the time I read to my 3 year old at bedtime, my daughter chooses about 3 to 5 books and I read them out loud for her. If I have read the same book for a few days in a row (her choice), I start pointing at the words as I read them. Since she is starting to make the sounds for each letter, she wants me to show her (sometimes) where does it say "lion," for example. Besides that, I do try to read to her at least one book at daytime, and when we have to wait at drs. appts and such, just to send her the message that is o.k. to read anytime and anywhere. :)"

Amy Graves ( "My daughters are 3 and 5. I'm not very good at routines, but my spouse and I both work full-time, so we had to establish something to maximize what time we have to spend with them in the evening. One way we condense our routine is to read books during bathtime. They think it's fun. We usually read 3-5 picture books from the library, chosen from a pool selected partly by them and partly by me. I try to read each book at least three times before we return them (as long as it's a good book!)

My older daughter can read now, so whenever we catch a spare moment I ask her to read to me, or to her sister. Watching them read together is awesome."

Emily S.: "I read to our 2-year old daughter while she eats her lunch. It's the only time she sits still through a book that I choose. At bedtime we read 2 or 3 pictures books of her choosing to her. We read picture books before bed to our 5 and 6 year old boys and every few weeks we switch from picture books to a chapter book. Right now we're reading to them "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Our 6 year old also reads to himself before bedtime after we read to him, for a half hour or so."

Tina W. : "My DD is 8 and loves to read. We always have books in the car. On long rides I read books to DH and DD or we listen to books on CD.

I often read to DD during her bath time. We usually have a book waiting for us in the towel cabinet.

We also read aloud on Saturdays or at odd times when we are together and not busy. Sometimes we trade off--she reads a chapter, then I read one. Some Saturday mornings she gets into bed with me and we read our own separate books."

Christine in NJ: "My 12 year old son does his "non-school" reading at night in bed. I often have to stop him or else he'll stay up too late. My 11 year old has a reading spot in her room. She has piles of books and plows through them at amazing speed! She reads ALL THE TIME. She would read at the dinner table, if I let her! Other mothers, who see my daughter reading so much, are now calling me to get reading recommendations for their own kids!

Now my 7 year old is struggling a bit becoming an independent reader. She is starting vision therapy so I do have a very structured reading program with her, which takes place immediately after school (before she gets tired) and then we leave the "fun/independent" reading for nighttime. We are trying to create a reading spot for her (new saucer chair/lap desk/x-tra lights/cool book marks) but she is struggling to make it comfortable or her own. She actually prefers to sit in her sisters reading spot! And then we have a 5 year old. He is in 1/2 day kindergarten, so we always read together after lunch while the house is quiet and the other kids are still at school. And then my husband does all the night time reading with the 2 little ones, while I "chat" with the two older kids.

My two older kids also read to the two little ones on a regular basis. Right now the boys are reading The Ultimate Pokeman Handbook together and the girls are reading one of the Disney Fairy books. That's the routine until June - and then we'll establish something new for the summer!..."

Jenny (Read. Imagine. Talk.): "My son Ethan just turned 2, and we read a bunch of times during the day. Before his nap and before bed we always read a bunch of books -- anywhere from between two and seven (depending on how tired he is!). We read whenever we're waiting anywhere (doctor's office, etc.), and then on and off throughout the day he'll bring me books to read to him.

Lately, Ethan has wanted to read on his own, telling stories out loud based on pictures, or reciting books he knows by heart. This is such a thrill to see!

Because I'm such a big reader and he's home with me all day, reading constantly seems completely normal to him, the same way he eats, takes baths, plays outside and sleeps..."

Katie (Katie's Literature Lounge): "I'm not a parent yet, but I remember the reading routine my mom and dad had with me and my brothers! Every night, after teeth were brushed, we'd gather in the bottom bunk in my brothers' room. If it was a holiday time, we'd read holiday stories. If not, we'd each take turns picking out a book from the bookshelf. Bedtime stories used to be one of my favorite parts of the day!"

Sheila (Greenridge Chronicles)
"I have 3 kids: aged 12, 7.5 & 7.5. We homeschool, and I mention that because we read first thing in the morning, when we'd otherwise be rushing off to public school.

It was harder finding group reads when the kids were smaller, because the 12 yr old was into Harry Potter while the twins were still enjoying anything written by Rosemary Wells, but now, for the most part, they like the same stuff. We read the entire Little House series (I've got a separate category on my blog for these because they were so seminal), we've almost finished the Harry Potter series, we've read pretty much every single Diana Wynne Jones book EVER WRITTEN and then a few odds and ends: Mr Popper's Penguins, Penderwicks, Dr Doolittle, The Water Horse...can't remember other titles offhand.

I tend to look for Newbery winners unless someone recommends something, or unless someone gives us something we love and it turns out to be one of a series - which is how we found the Max series by Rosemary Wells: my eldest is named Max and he was quite a bit like the Max in the books so we ended up collecting (and quoting) all the Max books. Then we found her MacDuff books and read (and quoted) all those too.

Our routine is this: every morning we eat breakfast, I might read something witty or weird from the newspaper to them, I finish my coffee, then I start reading, while they linger over their tea and breakfast. I usually read 3 chapters, unless the chapters are super short (or super long), in which case I read for about 45 minutes, although we read The Water Horse in 3 days because we couldn't put it down... I do the read aloud. I use voices if I can (Harry Potter is fun if you're good with accents because then you can imitate Hagrid and McGonagall and people like that). Sometimes I drag the story into the rest of the day, like when I wore a red satin cape and pretended I was McGonagall (and acted very strict), or when we all pretended we were in different Houses (like in HP) and I awarded points for various silly infractions. It can get quite hilarious at times. The kids love it.

We also memorize poetry, which I get them to recite to me (while I'm holding a recording device). I store these on my computer, and once in a while I haul them out and we watch them. I've gotten the twins to do the same poems their elder brother recited, so it's quite fascinating watching him do Christina Rossetti's Song at age 7 and then, skip forward 4 years, watch his brother and sister do the exact same poem. Quite charming. They love it, and I love, but for quite different reasons, I'm sure!"

Anonymous: "Our 7 year old is a very independent reader now, but we still enjoy reading together as much as possible. In the past year, we have experienced the same dilemma as Melissa where she couldn't wait until the next day to find out what happens and so would pick up the chapter book herself and finish reading to the end. We read the first Harry Potter together (her Papa and me taking turns) and then she read it on her own 2 more times and has since read the second and third.

Reading began for her in the womb. I am a preschool teacher and have a very large collection of picture books. Part of my daily routine while pregnant was to sit in a rocker with my tea in the evening and read and sing to her. Her baby and toddlerhood was filled with reading and singing as well. I ran a home daycare for a couple of years when she was 1-3 years old and we had a library right across the street! I would take all the children to the library once a week and we would choose 10 new books every 3 weeks. We read at circle time, before lunch, before nap, after nap... you get the idea. When she was 2 my daughter insisted that we hold "circle time" on the weekends with all of her little "stuffies" in place of absent daycare mates!!

Thanks Jill, for holding this forum. Every contributor here should be very proud of their efforts to pass on their love of reading to the next generation."

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