Reading out loud to your kids is not only fun, but helps to develop imagination, language, intellect and has about 8 million other positive results. I was pretty convinced of this already (it’s been a major part of our homeschooling experience, but also a natural part of our life together; my husband read most of The Hobit to me out loud, on our honeymoon). Then I read Jim Trelease’s seminal work, The Read Aloud Handbook, which was written in 1982 (not sure how I missed that one, but…better late than never. If you also have been living under a rock, you really should read this). And I was smitten, hooked, twitterpated even. How could every parent not want to read out loud to their kid?
That lasted for about a week, until I was engrossed in my own book (dare I admit it was Twilight, and I read all four books in three days, by staying up most of the night?) I could barely tear myself away to feed my kids, much less read something to them. I thought for sure they would be scarred and that I was damaging their developing personalities, but it may be in fact, good for kids to hear their parents saying (in the nicest possible way): Go away. I’m reading.
Kids do what we do, not what we say (see my husband’s recent blog). If they see us reading because we like to read, they will intuit that reading is enjoyable. If we read to them, but they never see us reading ourselves, they will figure out that this is something we do out of duty. This may still produce the positive benefits, but also may be less likely to instill in them the innate love of curling up with a good book.
It may also benefit our little angels to hear us – once in a while, mind you – say the equivalent of “Mommy loves you very much, but right now this other thing takes priority.” Or, face it, kid, the universe doesn’t revolve around you and sometimes you get bored and here’s your chance to go find something – anything – to do right now instead of hover near me. Whichever way, I think the message is one that we ought not to be afraid of saying.
Now go, read in peace! And if you are so inspired, check out this blog, which has handy-dandy book covers. You can download them and deploy at your local coffee shop so that friendly and helpful people will hopefully get the hint and not bother you while you are reading. My favorite is: “Climbing Mount Doom…BRB”