I currently have one toddler and, without any exaggeration, we spend at least 45 minutes reading together each day. Some days it can be much more than that. It is quality, cuddly, reading time and we both love it. I sometimes wonder how I could continue spending this time with my daughter if I had more children. And, what if I had four children? Surely I wouldn’t have 3 hours each day to dedicate to reading, to ensure I spent 45 minutes with each of them.
When I found out that a My Little Bookcase community member had four children, I couldn’t resist asking the question, “How do you find time to read with all of your children?”
I thank Christie Walsh, mum of four, who also manages her family’s photo booth business (In The Booth) for sharing her family’s reading journey below.
Have a read, and let us know how you find the time for quality reading with all of your children.
“How do you do it?” is the most common question I get asked upon seeing my four children, aged 7 and under. I could give lots of tricks and tips that I have learned along my journey as a mother, but today I want to share how I instill a love of reading in my home.
Yes, I do read to all four of my children most days. You may think that’s totally unrealistic but truth be told, it only takes a few minutes a day and if you weave it into your routine it becomes a habit – for life!
HOW DO I DO IT?
- I use a technique I like to call the “Noah’s Ark Principle”. I read two by two – that is, two children at a time. I find if they’re squished up nice and close to each side of me and can see the pictures well, they will be more interested in what we’re reading. When I try and read to all of my children at once they lose concentration and wander away.
- I also read to my son or make up my own stories if we have a spare 10 minutes before school pickups, or waiting in the car – it’s amazing how a good story can pass time!
- My 7 year old, Miss Sunshine, has become such a bookworm that I admit I am having trouble keeping up with her consumption of books! The bonus is, that on a particularly busy night, she can now read bedtime stories to her younger siblings – 2 at a time of course!!
- Another of my reading principles is “You mustn’t watch the movie until you’ve finished the book!” Even my 6 and 7 year old girls agree with me now, that watching the movie before you finish the book takes away the magic of your own imagination!
OUR FAMILY READING JOURNEY:
- When I start reading with my children, we read interactive books, for example tactile, lift-the-flap or ‘squeaky’ books. Our favourite for this age was Noisy Hippo (Gaby Goldsack) which, as an added bonus, quite successfully taught our children the difference between loud (outside) voices and quieter (inside) voices!
- After that we move onto the obligatory Dr. Seuss range. Dr. Seuss is a marvel – how many different ways can you tell the same story?? TONNES – we read it fast, slow, in funny voices, leaving off the last word for the toddler to fill in, re-enacting it, skipping pages for a fast read (did you notice that it still makes sense??) My son has been stuck on Green Eggs and Ham for about 2 months. Consequently his dinner capers are also much improved!!
- From Dr. Seuss, we needed to visit the library. I prefer books with imaginative pictures to hold younger readers’ attention. Books like Water Boy (Ros Asquith), The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear (Don & Audrey Wood) and The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle).
- Another of our well-thumbed books is a Little Golden Book I picked up at a garage sale. Its title says it all – My Little Golden Book of Manners (Peggy Parish). Funnily enough our children have often requested this read at around 2-4 years of age. I hope you can find a copy too!!
- At around the age of 4 years I ventured into bigger books with my girls – what we now refer to as “chapter books”. This is when the world of books opened up to them. We started with Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair Series. To foster imagination and creativeness you can’t go past these especially if you’re lucky enough to find the editions with colour illustrations. Even if they can’t manage to sit through a whole chapter, a page or two at a time will capture their attention and they can increase their reading time as their attention span grows.
- From there we moved to Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit series, Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder), PippiLong Stocking (Astrid Lindgren), The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) and any of Roald Dahl’s hilarious tales. We also occasionally read poems just to change things around a little – you can’t go past Banjo Patterson’s Mulga Bill’s Bicycle for a good laugh (and re-enactment).
- Our favourite book so far has definitely been Pollyanna (Eleanor H. Porter). It has actually changed our family life – but you’ll have to read it to understand the impact of ‘The Glad Game’!