Thursday, January 10, 2013


My father read to me until I was almost in my teens, and still reads my mother to sleep most nights.  When Ella was a babe, toddler and preschooler, until she could read for herself, we did the same for her.   I have to admit that we haven't been as studious in our reading with Leila, we just found it harder to make time with the second.  It sounds like an excuse because it is really, but with everything else that is done after school, at times we've found it easier not to - aside from the guilt.

I'm mentioning this to you for a reason, possibly to help you alleviate guilt of your own.  Reading is such a big part of our lives, something we all get so much pleasure from that we decided probably about 9 months ago to a year that we had to find a way to fit it in, so I took a leaf from my dad's book yet again.

When I was working my parents would come here and mind the girls one day a week, cook their dinner and I'd arrive by 6 in time for bathing and so they could get home, mostly, before dark.  Their routine included mum cooking dinner, the four of them sitting down together (only the girls eating) and Pa would read books they'd chosen from the library earlier in the day.  This has now been our routine for quite some time.

Our girls eat around 530, but Geoff and I eat together after he gets home and the girls are in bed.  That therefore frees me up to read, over dinner. We read chapter books generally, the Magic Faraway Tree was a huge favourite and we read it twice in a row and have now just started the Narnia Chronicles with The Magician's Nephew.

The reading helps with another common family issue at dinner time - focus.  Our girls eat much more, concentrate on what is on their plate and there is no squabbling, because they're engrossed in the story.  I usually do at least two chapters and the meal is done, peacefully and I've read to my children.  Of course my girls may well be older than yours and it doesn't work if you're trying to eat yourself or having to fill spoonfulls to insert in little mouths, but keep it in mind, it works for us.


Sandy said...

That sounds really wonderful, to read to your children during dinner and to have them totally engrossed! We love reading in our house. We're set to read the Chronicles of Narnia after we finish a few books by Cornelia Funke. I think I enjoy reading children's books more than adult books currently.

CC said...

We have dinner in two shifts, too. Maybe reading would reduce the amount of whining/carrying on at dinner time. I can hope.

We have an extended bed time routine including 3 picture books on the couch for the little one (and any one else who wants to listen) followed by a bit of a chapter book for the older two (in their beds). We are reading "The muddle headed wombat" at the moment and I'm always on the lookout for suitable books for 4+ year olds.

Kristi said...

i completely love this idea. i eat alone with the kids too. michael reads the boys chapter books when he puts them bed every night, it's their special time. your idea has me thinking though. maybe i can come up with some sort of calming ritual for the dinner table.

Elsie and Joan said...

I absolutely love this idea. We have on occasion, taken to telling stories over dinner where we go around the table, each person adding their own twists, characters and plot. I'll use this idea when I'm not eating at the same time. Thanks for sharing! Belinda x

Unknown said...

i love this idea. i am going to try it. i am really struggling trying to find something that captivates and holds their attention and at bed time they are often over it !