Friday, November 14, 2008

Reading Day

As I have mentioned before, I don't require my kids to read their readers on any particular schedule. I put them on the shelf, give them a list of books to check off, and let them loose. Their list includes their leveled Sonlight readers and the multitude of period-related history novels and non-fiction books I've bought to correlate with the given quarter of history for that year (this year being the "modern" quarter).

At some point during the year, I usually have to crack down and push reading through their list. The problem is not that they don't want to read. It's that they want to read one of the myriad of other interesting books in the house, especially when grandparents show up several weeks into the school year with all sorts of great new books. Or they want to re-read some of the books from their list that they picked already and really liked.

Then, I become Mean Mommy, who makes them read nothing but "school books" (and, I have to specify, school books that they haven't read yet). Books that they wouldn't pick up themselves. Books that they can't put down once Mommy makes them pick them up.

You see, it's not that it's torture to read the books. Just start them.

I can think of exactly one book so far in MS's school career that he actually didn't finish because he didn't like it. And, because I was reading his readers along with him, I didn't fight it. I thought the book was insipid myself. (And, no, I'm not telling you which one it was. I don't want to turn someone else off to a book that they might actually like.)

So, today I declared a Reading Day. The idea occurred to me when I was pondering both what to do with our day and what to do to prod the kids along their lists.

ML was leaving about 1 to go on a picnic with some friends and wouldn't be back until this evening. We had a leisurely morning. MS and I made muffins. The kids watched a few DVD's.

And then ML left, I put ZL down for a nap, and we dove into reading. I sat down with MA and JW and went through their lists, updating them. MS updated his own and chose a book he wanted to read today. I then picked a couple of books off of JW's list that I knew he would like and sent him off with them. I also picked a stack from MA's list and told her to get started on those. Then, I picked something for myself. I'm roughly keeping up with MS's readers, so I picked All-of-a-Kind Family and went to join the kids.

We read in the family area and in the play area. We read through lunch. The kids moved into the kitchen and read while I baked cookies. MS made hot chocolate, and they read while eating their cookies and drinking their hot chocolate.

And then I released them. They probably read for 3-4 hours today. And they all found new books that they're enjoying. And they all are aware of new books on their shelves that look interesting.

It was peaceful (mostly) and fun (a lot of the time).

All in all, I think my mission was accomplished.

And I think we definitely have a new family tradition. Reading Day is going to become a regular part of our life.

Oh, and I loved the book I read. I was able to finish it, and I'm really glad I read it.

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