Most parents know that reading with young kids is one of the most important things you can do for their development (more on how parents can encourage early literacy and why it matters) but oftentimes that reading focuses on books and themes of the children’s choosing. And as children get older and can read independently, reading together can become less frequent.
But reading together as a family is important for kids of all ages. And what you read is important, too. With so much “junk” out there that appeals to kids’ interests and humor, it can be hard to pull kids away from the less stellar series and into reading great literature and the pieces of writing to have stood the test of time.
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Here are a few simple ways we’ve made reading great literature both a priority and a pleasure in our family:
I would guess that most parents will say they often read to their kids. But I assume that reading looks like it did for years in our house: short books before bed and picture books selected by the kids throughout the day.
While we still do a lot of that type of reading with our little ones, since starting homeschooling, our read alouds look very different. I now focus more on reading aloud chapter books which we read over many weeks. And I’m seeing my kids’ interest in reading grow. Even my boys will ask to read our book before bed and my toddler will sometimes sit down to listen (though often he still usually nurses while I’m reading). It’s allowed us to go on adventures together and invest in reading great literature.
We’ve read great classics as well as favorites from my childhood. I love sharing my reading memories with my children and re-experiencing great characters and literary moments through them.
Reading great literature aloud together also gives us the opportunity to discuss things that my kids may not understand. Some books I read aloud purposefully because they have themes that may be hard for my kids to process on their own and others I choose because they were written in a different time and things are very different now.
Our favorite read alouds (affiliate links):
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
- Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri
- All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
- The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
Books on CD
We’ve gotten in the habit of listening to books on CD in the car. It started when we joined a local homeschooling book club and we were in the middle of reading another book and didn’t have time to read the book club book before the meeting. I got the book on CD from the library and it started a love affair. We now always have a book on CD going in my car.
It’s been a great way to pass the massive amount of time we spend driving too and from gymnastics and also a way to experience some of the greatest novels ever written even though they “don’t sound interesting” to my girls. We’ve delved into long series that would take too long to complete as read alouds and to find great new authors and series which my kids have continued to check out from the library and read on their own.
Where we took our long road trip from Florida to Colorado last month, we obviously couldn’t bring library CDs with us on our 6+ week adventure so I signed up for an Audible Subscription and I’ve been really happy with the selection available. I downloaded the Audible app onto our family phone (an extra “in-case” cell phone we have) and use that in conjunction with the GPS and it’s made life on the road so easy! And for a limited time, you can Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks (Affiliate Link).
Some of our favorite audio books have been (affiliate links):
- Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- A Wrinkle in Time series by Madeline L’Engle
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman
- Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan
- Word of Mouse by James Patterson
Now that my girls are older, we also sometimes do reading pass arounds where we take turns reading pages. I’ll usually start then pass to Honeybun and she passes to Sugarplum and then back to me. If hubby is around, he might take a turn, too.
It takes a little longer than me reading alone and we’ve learned to stick to books that are at level for our youngest reader but it’s a great way for my girls to demonstrate their reading ability and for us all to take a turn sharing reading without any one person getting tired or bored of reading too quickly.
Some of our favorite authors to pass around include (affiliate links):
How do you share reading great literature with your kids? What classic books are your family’s favorites?