I love to read. I always have. I know that has to do with my childhood. We were always going to the library or doing reading challenges for a free piece of pizza at Pizza Hut. Our own mom believed that reading saved her life…truly, for real…she actually believes that. If you heard her story you might agree.
I love how you can disappear into a good book like none of your worries and none your stresses can bother you.
I’ve read good books in one day. I’ve read good books more than once.
Everyone has a favorite book? Right? I think my own love for books is why I love to write so much!
I want our kids to not only love to read but to be good readers. I think being a good reader makes school easier and writing papers more natural. But, also, I want them to use books as a stress relief and a way to calm them or help them ready for bed.
So, from the time they were in my belly, I read them books. When the triplets were born I’d sit them in their little bumbo chairs for story time every. Single. day. I’d read the most colorful books full of animals and excitement with the loudest, most excited and arguably annoying voice and they’d look at me with big eyes and smile or laugh. It was some of my favorite time with them when they were little. When Fiona was born, nothing changed. We’d sit for story time (the triplets were about 2 at this time) and Fiona would be weeks old sitting on the floor next to them. I’d show her the pictures just like I would them, in hopes it’d make a difference. When Fletcher came, no different.
I’m happy to report that all of our kids love to read. They are upset when we have an activity that keeps us out past bed time and I tell them lights out. They want to read everyday and they still love when I read to them. Sometimes, admittedly when I have a lot to do at night or papers to grade, I wish they loved to read less. Fletcher steals books each day from his sibling’s rooms and the collection he has in there is upwards of 40 books (it’s a little ridiculous). He wants to “read” every single one each night which can be problematic but still…so sweet.
So, around Thanksgiving we decided to start reading to the kids. We began reading the Harry Potter series. We try to listen to our kids read every night, so they are practicing…but you know how that can be. Stuff gets in the way sometimes and it isn’t always possible. Plus, we have 5 kids and listening to all 5 of them read is time consuming and not always possible. So we have a plan and for the most part it works. But as many of you know kids, especially young ones, don’t really understand how to read punctuation or how to read with excitement and inflection.
And…if I’m being honest, that pains me, like physically, my ears bleed a little sometimes. I hate listening to speakers or readers who never change their tone. Monotone means instant aggravation to me. I’m sorry. It’s true. Maybe it’s the teacher in me or maybe it’s the juice in me, but for the love of all that is holy, if you are reading or speaking in front of a group of people, at least pretend you are excited about it.
Anyhow, I decided it would be good to model how to read with excitement and inflection with a book we could read as a family. Harry Potter came to mind and it was one of the best decisions we’ve made.
To date we have read through four books and are about a third of the way through the fifth and the kids are obsessed. They actually beg me to read most days and the second we finish a book they want to drive right to the book store to buy the next one.
What makes the whole thing even more exciting is they know there is a movie at the end of it. Not only do they get to read it, and experience the excitement but then we get to watch the movie as a family too. The only rule about that in our house is that they have to sit and listen to the book and we have to finish it before we can watch the movie.
The fruits of this labor (and sometimes it is a labor…those books are long) have been multiple. First, the kids all want to read it. Not only do they want me to read it to them, but when we finish, they want to read it themselves. Now it’s a pretty tough read for a 6 and 8 year-old kid but because we’ve read it already it makes it possible. Second, it has transformed their imaginations. Not just Harry Potter, but reading in general. They all love the Magic Tree House series so much and that has become a competition in our house to see who can read them first (yes, they are totally related to both Bryan and I…even competitive about reading). They even like history books…they all have their thing to read but because we’ve been reading so much they play the best games and draw the coolest pictures and even write their own stories.
For example, I was making dinner one night and the triplets weren’t home. I heard Fiona and Fletcher talking. So I went and stood on the stairs so I could hear. They were playing Harry Potter and Fiona was speaking in full British accent as Hermoine Granger. Fletcher was playing right along. It was the cutest thing and it filled my heart (see video below…I hid outside the door to capture that moment of pure sweetness).
Also, reading these books has given us quality time together as a family, where no one argues, we all learn to listen and respect each other’s personal space (a very important skill for young kids), we ask questions and learn about new vocabulary. It’s my favorite time of the day when it’s time to read together.
A friend of mine even suggested I look on Pinterest for snack ideas for when we watch the movies. I’ll admit…I’m not very pinteresty but I’m so glad she told me about this.
So far, we’ve made Nimbus 2000’s (edible broomsticks), Polyjuice potion (a drink Harry, Ron and Hermoine take to turn into other people for a brief period), Butterbeer (a favorite non-alcoholic drink of the Hogwart’s students) and Sorting Hats (an edible version of the hat that puts each Hogwarts students in their houses). The extra energy that these little snacks create for the kids makes it all the more fun. They are that much more excited to read the next book and it opens up conversation between them about the book and their favorite parts.
Not to mention when we watch the movie the kids like to point out how it is different from the book, especially Ellen whose memory scares me a little. She literally remembers everything.
Some of our old players have even got involved. When they heard we were reading Harry Potter they wanted in on the action. Annie Reilly (a 2012 grad) even bought them one of the books and came over and read some of it to them. Sheridan Zarda and Annie (both former players) watched one of the movies with us and enjoyed Butterbeer with the kids. So it’s even connected us with people other than our own children. It’s been pretty incredible.
I’m having as much, if not more fun, than they are!
The awesome that has come from this time together has been so incredible that I am worried about when we have read all the books. What will I read next? I’m open to suggestions!
We are taking a brief break from Harry Potter to read the book Wonder. I read it first and loved it. We really want to teach our kids to be empathetic and kind and I think this is a great book for discussion about those qualities.
I just wanted to share my experiences with this because it’s been so wonderful. I wanted to celebrate the awesome of books and of reading and of the quality time spent with kids.
All of those things have brought me such joy. I hope it can do the same for all of you!
Below is Finley Joe with his sorting hat. Hoping for Gryffindor! (who am I kidding, I made them all Gryffindor so no one would fight…everybody wants Harry Potter’s house)Fletcher here hoping he can drink all of the Polyjuice Potion!The sorting hats…my best Pinterest creation to date. Also, my 3rd Pinterest creation to date!
Fletcher turned on his light after lights out so he could “read all his books” and this is how I found him before I went to bed…asleep with all his books. Every. single. night.
Nimbus 2000…Harry Potter’s first broomstick…my 1st Pinterest creation. The easiest for sure!
Below one of my favorite pictures ever taken of me. I am reading to the four oldest kiddos, like I did every day, but this time, my hubby captured an image of it. I will cherish this one forever as you can see the raw reality of our lives (notice the toys every where)…Love, Love, Love this!