As I've said, this mission is designed first and foremost for me. If I have held myself up to be some super-Mom who reads book after book at each child's request, while doing crafts and whipping up a healthy meal, then I apologize. I know that all of these things are important, and I want to give the time that it takes to do them, but I often let other things get in the way. I am hoping that making a concentrated effort for a few weeks will honestly change my habits. I want to set some concrete goals and then evaluate how I achieved success, or why I did not.
With Kyle (age 2 1/2):
He's a busy boy, but sometime after he turned one, he really began enjoying books, so I would read to him at bedtime, of course, and occasionally make an effort to read more to him throughout the day. With this whole mission in mind, I have really been consistent about reading to him at bedtime and naptime. I usually read three books each time. I am happy with this process, but to stick to it over these last few weeks, it's involved change. Instead of just rushing up to naptime and tossing him in bed at the last possible minute, I've had to make sure that we have the ten minutes or so that reading requires. Ten minutes--that's nothing really in the grand scheme of things. So I want to continue reading at least three books at naptime and nighttime. I would also like to read to him more throughout the day. I think that I may reinstate our TV Free Tuesday, which was always good for more reading (for both of us!).
I also want to incorporate more variety. I would like to complete a couple of the units from Picture Book Preschool which has weekly themes, incorporating quality books centered around a different topic each week.
For Amanda (age 8):
I got some great ideas for short novels for kids from the The Read-Aloud Handbook (this book is as good as everyone says it is, in content, but especially for the lists of recommended ages, from picture books up through teens). I think that by reading a few short novels, as opposed to one long book, we will both stay excited. We might read a Mary Poppins sequel as well (my review is linked there--it was a GREAT read-aloud book). She is such an avid reader, but as she herself told me, reading together is a tangible reminder of my love and care for her. I love the connection it creates between us. But because she enjoys reading on her own, and because bedtime is such a rushed time, it's something that usually happens three or four nights a week, instead of each night. I would like to set a page goal, so that if reading at night isn't occurring with regular frequency, I'll make it a priority during other times throughout the day. I would like to read 280 pages over the month. That's an average of 10 pages a night, which is probably no great stretch, but it's the consistency that I'm striving for. It would also be nice to incorporate a bit more variety with her, as well, such as reading a great juvenile biography together.
As a family:
Since there is such a gap in their ages, it's hard to read to both of them together. I've been wanting to read more poetry to Amanda, since she's begun to show an interest (in Shel Silverstein, specifically), and it occurred to be that the sing-song rhythm of poetry could be a great thing for both of them. I can choose content that is more interesting for Amanda, but Kyle should be able to listen and enjoy as well. I think that a good time to read to them together would be after Amanda returns home from school in the afternoons. I have already ordered the Cybils winner in the poetry category, Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets from the Meadow, and it's on the way, so I will begin with that. If anyone has any other poetry recommendations for a third grader (that a 2 year old would listen to), I'd love to hear them.