One of the earliest habits we developed in our homeschool was reading-aloud. In those early days, I remember eagerly scoping out what other homeschool families were doing, as well as looking into all the different educational philosophies and ideas. At some point, I stumbled upon some statistics about the academic benefits that children receive from being consistently read to and I knew it was something I had to include as a part of our school days. That’s not to say I loved it immediately. If you have never read-aloud for long periods of time (in other words, not just picture books), I can tell you that it definitely takes some practice. I remember feeling a bit awkward at first, but after really enjoying our first few books, I was pretty much hooked and was constantly on the hunt for our next book.
We’re halfway into our sixth homeschool year now and we’ve continued to read together almost daily. On average, we read about 10-15 books together each school year. I’m also often reading something with one of the kids at bedtime. And of course, we try to read at least 1-2 together over our 8-week summer break. I decided the other day to look over my bookshelves and try to count how many chapter books I’ve read to the kids over the years and I was surprised that I’m up to almost eighty books! That was really encouraging to me because there are definitely times that, like every homeschool mom, I’m critical of myself and think that I could be doing more, but when I consider the hundreds of hours my kids have spent absorbing literature being read to them (and that’s not even including the 100+ audiobooks they’ve listened to for fun), I feel like that’s at least one thing we’ve done really well.
All that said, I feel like this year we began to find ourselves in a bit of a reading rut. We’ve eased into reading mostly biographies to go with our history studies or classics, and while we’ve definitely enjoyed them, we have been missing the “on the edge of your seat” feeling that you get when reading a mystery or adventure story. This is the first year I’ve found myself pondering, “I wonder if I could maybe slow down on the reading to them and gradually let them read all on their own, since they are both very strong readers now.” Elliot is reading around 100 books per year while Caroline is on track to read around 60 this year, so it has definitely been tempting to “pass the baton” and have them do all their own reading. I wasn’t really feeling motivated and inspired to continue much farther into the future. The payoff just wasn’t feeling quite worth the time and energy it was costing me.
Just in the nick of time, a friend of mine mentioned The Read Aloud Revival to me. It occurred to me that maybe instead of quitting, our read-aloud time just needed some reviving. I checked out the website immediately and began listening to the pod-casts. Episode 1, which discusses how beneficial reading-aloud is to older kids who are already proficient readers, was particularly great. I was immediately inspired to keep going with our habit of reading-aloud. I came up with a plan that will hopefully keep me from burning out and will keep the reading fun and engaging. Instead of doing all historical/biographical books and classics, I’m going to also make sure to include several “just for fun” books. Additionally, I’m going to occasionally use audiobooks for our school read-aloud time. Sometimes Mom just needs a break!
I adore my collection of classics, but they are definitely not “light reading” and I’ll probably limit myself to one or two per school year (I’m also requiring the kids to read at least one each school year).
I’ve been collecting up some historical fiction books that I think will still be really enjoyable to read together over the next few years as tie-ins to our history studies.
And a few “just for fun” ideas that are on my list at the moment,