“Let's read, let's read!” chanted my children as we finished cleaning up after dinner. Filing upstairs and settling comfortably on the queen-sized bed with our three kids, I picked up Swiss Family Robinson and continued reading from this intriguing, delightful story.
Of all the academic subjects, reading has had the most powerful influence with positive results for our family than any other subject. We have taken exciting adventures together and made many marvelous memories simply through reading books. In our family, we would read morning, noon, and night—sometimes aloud, sometimes silently, but always joyfully!
Our homeschool day began early and one of the first items on our list was reading. I would read from a children's Bible when my kids were little. They would sit enraptured by the biblical, historical accounts and frequently requested (or begged!) that I continue reading. We would discuss the stories afterwards and have many thoughtful conversations.
Many of our discussions would be prompted by their own insights or personal questions, but occasionally I would ask a question to provoke thoughts about personal character or events in the world.
When my children were young, I would often read poetry and discuss the imagery or rhyme pattern while they ate lunch. Later, as they grew, I'd read history books such as Story of the World or the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
In the afternoon, each child would silently read one of the books on our reading list. Frequently, they would stretch out with a pillow on the couch or floor, or perhaps in one of the comfy chairs and read and read and read. Many times, one of them would be so captivated by a book that I had to stop their reading and tell them to come to dinner!
Yet, occasionally, one of my children would dislike the book I assigned, and they would complain greatly about it.
If they had just started the book, I would sit and read it with them, hoping they would become interested in the story. But I would take each case individually and decide if this was a book they really needed to read. If it was an important book, I made the effort to discuss and work through problem areas. However, there were times when I would allow them to choose a different book to replace the one they disliked.
Whenever a negative situation arose, I tried to find a way to encourage them. Sometimes it’s helpful to provide extra motivation through rewards or using online notes or study guides to provoke interest and help them comprehend the story.
Every evening, we would gather together on our large guest bed, and I would read an enjoyable book aloud. The excitement was tangible as we journeyed together with the protagonists and then pondered how they would survive!
We continued all of these reading traditions throughout our children’s high school years, and we all have fond memories of our many adventures.
A Mother’s Example
As homeschool moms, our lives can be very busy, sometimes even “dizzy busy” as we have many other outside responsibilities, too.
Years ago, I started a personal list of books that I hoped to read someday, but that list just continued to grow! Yet, I knew that my example of reading could have a huge positive influence on my kids' love of reading.
So some afternoons, while my children were reading silently, I took time to read books from my list. This ended up being relaxing, enjoyable, and unifying… and allowed me to read a lot of good books, too! I learned that taking time to read will help you as a wife, mother, and homeschool teacher. It’s not only important but also sets a beautiful example for your children.
I thought it was important to find high quality books that teach positive character qualities and values. We avoided books that had disrespectful children as protagonists, especially if they were considered funny or heroic. We also avoided books with vulgar language and situations.
Finding suggestions from trustworthy friends is a great place to start. We also found lists in books like Honey For A Child's Heart, Books that Build Character, and Teaching Character Through Literature.
Powerful, Positive, and Persuasive
Reading also had a powerful influence on our family by instigating a desire to investigate unfamiliar subjects. For example, the Little House on the Prairie series persuaded us to explore homesteading and pioneer life.
We sewed, cooked unique meals, went fishing, planted gardens, and canned fruit, partly because of things mentioned in these books. The love and respect the Ingalls shared provided a strong positive influence on my children’s developing young minds—and on their parents’ minds, too!