When our first child was born, I imagined all the happy hours I would spend reading to him. There has been some of that, certainly, but not as much as I imagined. Given the attention span on the average toddler and the fact that I am exhausted by the time the evening rolls around, bedtime reading has not been as blissful as I imagined. I have fallen asleep reading and vetoed long picture books more often than I care to admit. Considering all the wonderful books I can’t wait to read to my children, I need more time than a few half-asleep pages before bed. Over the past few years, I have found some things that work best for us when it comes to reading aloud (and none of them involve skipping pages when no one’s watching).
1. We read before I get out of bed. When our youngest was a brand new baby (and I was up and down all night), I stayed in bed as long as possible in the morning. Since our oldest has always been an early riser, I trained him to bring whichever book we were reading to my room when he woke at the crack of dawn. By the time we finished a chapter or two, I would be ready to pull myself out of bed and face the daunting task of making breakfast.
2. We read during meals. Once I returned to the land of Sleeping All Night, we moved our morning reading to breakfast time instead. In addition to starting the day off on a calm and happy tone, there is (slightly) less silliness at the table when I’m reading and (slightly) less syrup on the floor as a result. If we are running behind on school for the day, I’ve been known to read our history lesson during lunch to catch up.
3. We read in the car. Since I generally only read a chapter or two a day, we move through books pretty slowly. Long road trips are the perfect opportunity to make up some ground on my lengthy list of books to read while they’re young. My first choice for long trips is audiobooks since I get motion sick pretty easily. I have read on and off during a long drive when the situation is desperate however. (Case in point: we recently left for a trip with only 4 chapters left in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I was not so cruel as to suggest we wait until after vacation to finish it off.)
4. We try new things when we hit a slump. Like all things, our routine and interests change with the time of year and needs of the children. I still read during breakfast a few times a week, but I’ve added in reading to my second grader at night. I love the chance to discuss the finer points of Hogwarts history with someone who loves it as much as I do. Will we keep reading at night after we finish the last book? I’m not sure. I might be ready to reinstate the bring-a-book-to-Mom-in-the-morning routine. It really was quite nice to get those extra minutes in bed.