For this week's Yarn Along, I have a completely different project than the one I've been working on for the last several weeks. I needed a break so I started on Finn's Chain Maille sweater which is coming along quickly. I hope to have more to show of it soon. I also began a small project for knitting in the car on our trip this past weekend. I finished the first orange toddler sock, in a larger size than the previous ones I knit from this pattern, and started on the second. I also began reading Pox, An American History, which is about the American smallpox epidemic in the early 1900s and compulsory vaccination. Very fascinating read so far.
Someone mentioned to me recently that they were surprised that I still read aloud to our older kids, which made me take stock and put some thought into why we continue a treasured family pastime now that 3 of our 4 children read fluently. We are frequently so busy during the week, why do we continually make time for this particular activity.
There are a few different reasons that family reading time is important to us. But I should first mention that our family reading time takes on many faces. I nightly read to some combination of the kids, but depending on the book, it's all 4 kids, just the 3 older kids, or if the boys are at their moms, then just Elizabeth and/or Finn. We frequently have 2-3 books going at a time. Right now I'm reading Homer Price to all of the kids, although we're nearly finished, and on the nights that the boys are gone, I'm reading Anne of Green Gables to Elizabeth. Finn and I are currently reading The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk at his afternoon naptime. My children read to each other often as well. We often find one of the older children reading aloud to Finn at various times during the day, and Elizabeth and Philip often pull together sleeping bags on her floor on weekends so she can read aloud to him. Reading together is clearly a way that we connect to one another throughout the week.
One of the biggest reasons I read to my children every day is to have this quiet connection time with them. I want them to see every day that I'm taking time out to read to them and that reading and spending time with them are both important to me. I also want them to be able to look back on the memories of us reading together fondly. Even if they don't remember all the books we've read together, I hope they remember what it felt like to spend time together in books every day.
Another important reason I choose to read aloud to my kids is that I want them to read books of many different topics and a variety of styles. Most kids don't choose classics or variety of genres on their own. I've never had one of the kids complain about any of the books we've read aloud. We've read everything from an ancient copy of a Clara Barton biography to A Christmas Carol to The Bobbsey Twins and The Wind in the Willows. They may never find a series they love until I read the first book aloud to them. They might find a new author whose work resonates with them or a new genre they never would have picked on their own.
I also choose to read aloud to my kids hoping to improve their vocabulary and push them outside of their current reading levels. There are few children's authors today who speak to kids using a robust vocabulary the way authors did in the past. (Kate DiCamillo is an exception who comes to mind.) I hope their horizons will be broadened just a bit with the choices I make and the sharing of these books together.
Lastly, what an enjoyable and relaxing (usually) way to end the day by reading together as a family or in a small group. With some scary statistics that my husband just read aloud to me ringing in my ears, I hope my family, and my children individually, read for a long time to come.