I started tracking my reading in 2013. I thought it would be pretty cool for me to provide a list to my kids when they got a little older, allowing them to see the mental adventures their old man went on throughout his life.
My wife, while she does not track her reading actually reads way more than I do.
We differ on preference of medium as she loves her kindle and I am more of a physical books kind of guy. Regardless of what you read from, the fact remains that while I speak to married men, this (reading to your kids concept) isn’t only for the father to do.
I believe my wife and I do it the best as we both read to and with our kids as well as ensuring they see us reading on our own.
Our children follow our example, not our advice and they rise to the standard we accept, not the one we expect. Don’t expect your kids to be reading when you don’t.
It has been brought to my attention that while I have been promoting reading and setting positive examples for your children, I’ve yet to touch on the subject of the importance of not only reading in front of them, but also reading to them and with them.
Interacting with them in a manner where reading is the sole connection & focus.
I have found that establishing routines, rituals, traditions, and standards in your family is of the greatest importance.
Reading to your kids is an opportunity for you to facilitate their mental growth in a way that nothing else could ever compare. Whether it is the routine of reading before bed, the tradition of reading A Christmas Carol every December, or the ritual of where everyone sits, drinks prepped and gathers around whomever is telling the story that night.
These memories last a lifetime and the foundation from which you build your family is strengthened. The beauty is that reading combines tradition, rituals, and routines together into a single event.
You don’t know me, you know who I show, but you don’t know the everyday real me because we don’t interact every day. I will let you in on a piece of my private nature, I am not a complainer and I cannot tolerate those who are. Instead of talking about a problem or complaining one exists, why not work towards a solution to the issue?
Masculine men don’t whine that their faucet is leaking, their yard is trashed, or that their kids don’t listen; they fix the damn issue and move forward.
One of the biggest complaints I hear about children is that they are all about instant gratification, that their faces are always plugged into electronics, and that they do not appreciate the hard work and discipline that was needed back in the day.
Guess what parent your kid’s issues are direct results of your failure to properly lead them. Every single problem you find in your child should be viewed as a mirror as it is your failure. So, lets find an answer to the issues, let’s bring about a resolution to your gripes as complaining about the solution as opposed to working towards a resolution is nothing more than redundancy without progress.
Reading is the solution to a majority of your problems
Reading TO them
One way to ensure that your children are set up for success, appreciate a sturdy family life, and have the values you find to be of importance is for you to be an influential part of their growth and development of self.
Reading is an aspect of this growth that I find will go deeper and last longer in your child’s memory than any other activity. Maybe it’s the romanticized aspect of Daddy reading to me before bed or maybe it is the ‘adventures’ we went on together. Whatever it is, my kids have made it clear whenever I take too long to grab a book that they expect me ready to read and they aren’t going to hear any excuse as to why I bailed on them.
I have read many books to my kids, each time is unique.
The ones that stand out are the ones where we all really get into it. Reading Way of The Warrior Kid (picture of that above), The Hobbit, Tolkien’s Beowulf, Alice in Wonderland, and (currently) the Harry Potter series will have me and the kids turning the pages on the edge of our seats wondering what will happen next.
Singing the songs of the Dwarves, doing the accents and voices in Alice in Wonderland, and painting the picture in Harry Potter are things that my kids will never forget.
Their dad being there, breaking it down, showing the pictures, explaining the advanced concepts, discussing the chapter after reading it, allowing them to stay up late so we can finish the chapter (sometimes more for me than them) all of it strengthens an aspect of our relationship that cannot be duplicated elsewhere.
Reading WITH them
Both of my kids read short stories to me every day. Their school has them take a book home every day and the family will sit down together and they’ll will read to us.
After they read their books I ask what they thought about it, what their favorite parts were, and then I will ask questions like:
- What was the boy’s name?
- What was the color of the truck?
- Why did the dog run into the house?
I do this in an effort to test their reading comprehension. They love reading to us, it makes them proud and having them read in front of people helps to develop both their self-confidence as well as self-efficacy. Not only do they know they can read to us, they also know that when they do read they comprehend what it is that they’re putting out.
Now to shift gears and focus the spotlight on you.
Answer these honestly:
- How many nights have you put your kid to bed without reading to them?
- How many nights did you choose watching Netflix or drinking over sharing that moment with your child?
- Why do you think your child doesn’t appreciate reading or doesn’t have the ability to sit still and remain focused for longer than 3 minutes?
My kids are 8 and 5, don’t play the “age” card. It’s your fault; you are placing your own selfish priorities over the development of your offspring and they are suffering for it. Your children are destined to be a part of the growing population of weaksauce kids who lack discipline, the ability to read, and cannot maintain focus on one thing for more than 5 minutes.
We only have so many breathes in this life, only so many opportunities to have a Polaroid (memory) hung up on the string that is our life.
Do you imagine your child reading to their kids when they get older? Do you imagine them sitting with a kid on their lap telling stories? Do you entertain all of those other ‘cliché’ romantic moments? If you do and you don’t read to your kids, then it’s not going to happen.
I read a quote today which said:
“I’m of the opinion reading to your kids is the single best thing you can do for them. Books are the one thing we have no qualms purchasing in our household and we have hundreds.
It’s just insane how beneficial it is:
- Adds something fun to the daily routine.
- Creates together time with very little effort. But cosy, special one-to-one (or one-to-two in my case) time.
- Sows the seeds of later literacy. Not just reading but things like vocal inflection and character/plot development.
- Start early enough and you put them on the front foot when they start school, because they’ll instinctually understand what it means to interpret words on a page.
- Lets kids play out reality and experience the wider world (and fantasy worlds) from the safety of their own home.
- Gives them a platform to develop and explore their own interests.
- Calms them the hell down before bedtime.
I read to both my kids since day one and now my six year old now reads to me!”
I could not agree more with his stance on the subject and again, if you don’t read to your kids then you are robbing them from a lifetime of personal and professional growth.
Read IN FRONT of them
Kids will follow your example over your advice.
The most important action to take if you want your kids to read, is to do so yourself.
Skip watching the football game, skip watching Family Guy or Bob’s Burgers, save that for when they are in bed. When it is raining out, don’t have them playing video games, instead of the external stimulation have them utilize some internal imagination to create a world of enjoyment.
When the sun is out, my family is out.
The wife runs around with them, I play ball with my son or chase my daughter, we do whatever. If it is raining, then my wife and I will do some projects or whatever the house needs and we will also sit in our living room and read. She will read on the kindle (sometimes a physical book) and I will read on my chair with a book (sometimes the kindle). The kids play with their toys, but more often than not they will come into the room and grab a book and either weasel their way between myself and my book asking me to read theirs with them or they will lay on the floor and read or look at the pictures themselves.
They enjoy being wherever we are and while we don’t force them to read with us, it is expected that they will do something productive and not whine about not being able to go outside.
My kids see me lift, so they ‘lift’ (foam barbell/15lb kettlebells, pushups/body squats, etc.) they see me read, so they read.
Books get you to strengthen your mind, reading is Mental Fitness. Provide your child with that mental strength and fortitude. Teach them the amazing power of the written word. Explain to them how interesting it is that a bunch of black squiggly lines on a dead tree possibly written by a dead man can paint a picture in their mind.
Remember, “A person who won’t read has no advantage over the one who can’t.”
Acta Non Verba,