Not Just at Bedtime

Most families who read aloud to their children do so at bedtime. I recommend that you do that too, but that you also find another time of day that you read to your children on a regular basis, so they come to expect it AND to look forward to it.

One time that works well for many families is mealtimes—because you have a captive audience!

Here are two examples of what that looked like in our family . . .

When my younger two children were 5 and 6, I worked the early shift so I could pick them up at the end of their school day and we could spend the afternoon together. Their father had the job of getting them up in the morning, preparing their breakfast, and getting them out the door in a timely fashion. He told them that if they got dressed and were ready for breakfast on time, he would read to them while they ate. He selected Hurlbut's Story of the Bible to read to them. With 168 stories from the Old Testament and New Testament, there was ample material for many morning reading sessions. The children were so anxious to hear their story in the morning that they scurried about so they would be in their places at the kitchen table ready to listen, well before their breakfast was served. After they had made their way through all 631 pages, they wanted to hear it again, and so in the course of a year they had heard all 168 stories twice. After that grounding in the Biblical narrative, they knew the stories of the Bible better than many of their Sunday School teachers!

Next they tackled Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales, adapted by Julius Lester and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. No doubt they would have read through many more books together had not their father died soon thereafter, making the memories of their morning read-aloud time all the more precious.

When I took up the mealtime reading, I chose suppertime. I ate much more quickly than Daniel and Rebecca did, so I started reading as soon as I had finished my meal. William Bennett's The Book of Virtues provided a variety of selections for us to read together, including short stories, folk tales, and poems. Keeping this large book on the counter near the table encouraged us in this habit, making it something we all looked forward to!

So there is no scrambling to find something to read during the mealtime read-aloud time, choose the book ahead of time. Preferably a lengthy book that you keep in a place of honor in your kitchen or dining room. By that simple act, alone, you will demonstrate to your children how much you value reading.

Why not get started with mealtime reading now?

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