“Reading every day, or close to it, takes discipline when children are little. It takes a real act of will as they get older and other claims begin to encroach on the time they have at home. Schoolwork, sports, friends, part-time jobs, and the hydra-headed temptations of technology will try to crowd out regular reading. Don’t let it. This is a battle worth winning,” Meghan Cox Gurdon writes in The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction.
I totally agree. It is worthwhile, even when it feels like all forces seem to be conspiring against this goal of sharing stories. My sons are both strong readers, but there’s still much to gain from these read-aloud sessions. It exposes them to literature they might not pick up on their own. Reading aloud also builds shared experiences – it adds to our store of shared references and characters. For example, my younger son occasionally refers to eccentric Mrs. Dowdel, whom we first met in A Long Way from Chicago, speaking of her as if she were a real person. Sometimes, weeks after finishing a book, my boys bring up a point or ask about something we’ve read.
Reading together with older kids can still “create connection out of alienation and distance,” as Gurdon writes. “It can act as a catwalk over the turbulent waters of toddlerhood, and do the same years later in the storms of early adolescence.” These are some of the reasons I maintain our reading team and encourage others to do the same.