Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Importance of Reading Together

I'm a total book nerd. I am always in the middle of a book at any given time. For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. I'm also a bit snobby about them...I'm ok lending out a book if I really trust you, but before I allow it to enter your hands there is basically a blood oath that you won't dog ear a single page.

Also, there was a period of time where I tried the Nook, then the Kindle, and I always find myself just wishing I had the paperback.

I love having multiple bookshelves filled with books, organized by genre and author. Some I've never read, I just like to own (such as the complete works of Shakespeare) Some, I've read more times than I have fingers to count (Harry Potter, anyone?) and some I know I won't read again, but don't dare throw away because I hope my children will some day enjoy.

Which brings me to my topic. While I don't particularly recall sitting on a lap being read to as a child, it's something I knew since very early on in motherhood I wanted to do.

I have two daughters, a 6 year old and a 1 year old. From the time my oldest, Hailey was about 2, she had already begun to gather an impressive collection. Not only was I a frequent shopper at the major bookstores, buying her all the classics from my childhood, but we also participated in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

The Imagination Library program is only available in some states but it is entirely free and they send one age-appropriate book for your child a month, until they are 5 years old!! I encourage everyone to check if it's available in your area.

As Hailey got older, it went from cute board books she usually had the attention span to sit through, to more recently, chapter books we'd read together.

She can now read to me as well, which is beyond special. Reading together has always been part of our nighttime routine. When it was just the three of us, my husband and I would each read her one or two books a night.

Now that a baby is in the mix, she and I read together while my husband puts Penelope, my 1 year old, to bed.

In fact, one of the most weighted consequences we can scare Hailey with is the prospect of skipping our evening book. We could take away TV for a week and it would not have nearly the same reaction as one missed night of reading! I'd hate to miss it, too.

Not even a blackout can stop us!

While we still tuck in picture books at her level occasionally, we've had a passion project for about 6 months now. I am beyond thrilled to say she has been sharing in my love of Harry Potter! She was interested in the movies, and I insisted she could watch them only if we read the books together first.

We try to do one chapter a night, which doesn't always happen for numerous reasons – whether it be her falling asleep, not focusing, a really long chapter, etc.. so it takes a bit to get to the end of a book.

At the end of each, we then watch the movie together. At this point in time, we have recently started book 5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. While I think some things are a bit over her head, and I find my self having to remind her of facts chapters later, I love the experience it gives us. It is my most favorite series and discovering that magic through her eyes is unlike any other feeling.

I feel like reading together is such a major bonding for us. I know that there are many studies that show the longerm benefits of doing so, but on a smaller scale it just really brings us together. It is a time of day we both look forward to. Especially once a new baby was brought on it was harder to carve out time that was just me and her, but we have managed to make this count.

Without even going into a textbook lecture of all the psychological reasons why you should be doing this with your children, let's just shoot for the obvious:

Introducing a love of literature to your children early on will encourage them to continue the practice alone, helping them in learning to read and to develop the habit of reading for pleasure.

I also believe you are creating a wonderfully amazing imagination in a child. Hearing my child pretending to be a wizard, or princess or goblin based on a story book character is so magical. Above that, reading has allowed for a comfortable launchpad for necessary conversations about complicated topics, such as religion and 'growing up'.

Reading to the little ones is a bit more challenging, but I've learned you can't expect them to sit still and listen first and foremost. I feel like with my 1 year old, I'm teaching her what a book is, with the turning pages and treating them well.

Many times a day she brings me a book (or a GOOK as she says) and says “Please” (“Pweez”) wanting me to flip through it with her. As far as I'm concerned that's setting solid groundwork for our future story times, and that is good enough for now.

I look forward to the day when both my children can read to me, and we can continue this tradition for as long as they're willing.

It's never to late to start. Sit down with your kids and take a journey to a far away land. Open their minds to the endless possibilities that lay between the majestic pages of each tome. You won't regret it.


  1. As a teacher what you are instilling in your children is wonderful! A lifelong love for reading I believe begins early. Always have books around and develop a nighttime routine is crucial. I still know when a student comes into my class at the beginning of the year if they read to at home. Keep up the good work. Thanks for stopping by today at Party at My Place.

  2. Reading together is such a great time to connect with your children in an imaginative way! Way to go! I have a large stack of books I have collected ever since I was in my teens for one day when I have children and can read to them.

  3. I agree reading together is so important!! I just wanted to let you know you linked this up in the Pinterest section of #bloggerspotlight reserved for pinterest pins. I would hate you to miss out on being featured for not putting your pin in the right spot so wanted to let you know.

  4. I agree with this entirely. I don't have kids or anything, but as soon a I had learned to read, I would read aloud to my little sister. It was pretty special for me and I know she loved it too, even though she doesn't liked reading anything but textbooks now! I clicked through from the Be Inspired linky!

  5. We are a reading family. My husband, our son and his wife all earned their undergraduate degrees in English literature and I was a middle school Language Arts teacher. I tried to instill a love of reading in my students, but it was difficult with no reading materials in the home.

    Your post made me think of this quote by Strickland Gillian

    “You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be. I had a mother who read to me.”

    Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  6. You paint a beautiful family picture, reading together. Keep up the work that you are passing on to the next generation. I hope they can still buy books then. You had better pass your books on just in case.
    Bloggers Pit Stop

  7. Oh I love your post. This is wonderful. I am like you I read a lot! I've recently started a book review blog. Could I repost this post there?
    It's at I am going to link the Imagination Library too. Thanks for sharing this. Come by and visit and please follow my blogs. I'll look for your follow buttons.

  8. Thanks for sharing at Let's Get Real Friday Party. I read with my boys way beyond when they learned to read. They are both readers in the late teens.

  9. I so agree!! Teach them young how to enjoy a good book!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday! Hope to see you again tomorrow!! Pinned!!

  10. When my kids were younger, reading together was part of our nightly routine. Now that they are older they read independently or they read to me!

  11. Great post, reading and developing imagination in children is so important and really contributes to a memorable childhood. Following from

  12. What a wonderful post! I have such fond memories of reading with my mom growing up, and hope to do the same thing with my own kids someday. :) Thank you for sharing at #FridayFrivolity -- pinning and tweeting!

  13. Thanks for linking up at Peace Love Linkup! Our next party starts tomorrow at 6, so stop on by and share some more great content! Hope to see you there! : )

  14. I love reading with my kids! It makes me so proud seeing their love of reading grow. Soon they'll be total book nerds like their mommy.

  15. I absolutely love reading, Jackie. It's my chance to escape the real world, or learn more about the real world, to live vicariously through the characters in the book and I can get lost in a good novel for hours on end. My daughter has my love of reading, but my boys are just completely clueless when it comes to the joy of picking up a book that keeps you so enthralled with the story and the characters that you will force yourself to stay awake and finish the chapter (or the book) to find out what happens. Keep reading to your children - it is (sadly) one of the things that is being lost on our younger generations with all of the technology that is available at their fingertips.

  16. Yes my kids love reading to them, thanks for sharing this wondederful post with Hearth and soul blog hop.

  17. Reading with your children can open up a whole new world to them. I have such fond memories of my parents reading to me and of reading with my son when he was growing up. I've featured this post at this week's Hearth and Soul Blog Hop. Thank you for sharing it.

  18. What a well written, thoughtful post! I loved reading with the kids, when they were really little and then old enough to really take part. The Harry Potter Series was a set that we worked through until they wanted to read them by themselves. To watch them snuggle in with a book was such a lovely thing. We also loved the movies and we watched them again and again, and the books have all been read multiple times. I love how close you and your children have become through reading! Keep it up!