It’s just what we do.
My mom and dad read. My sisters read. My husband reads.
Lola falls asleep with a book in her hands while we snuggle at bedtime. Every time.
My boys read.
Yes, I have boys who read.
They fight. They wrestle. They are so. very. loud. They jump off the bunk beds. They play computer games. They watch (sometimes brainless) television. They are social (understatement alert). They ride bikes. They swim. Their bodies are in constant motion. Their mouths are in constant motion. (I have three of the talking-est boys you will ever meet.)
And they read. A lot.
Sometimes I imagine a little conversation going on in heaven. It is one where God is planning all the ways in which the blessing-boys He chose for me will
break stretch and challenge and teach and refine me. And then He decides to give me a… reward, if you will, and make them all readers in addition to their other, uh, qualities.
The reading thing—it is my sanity. It is wonderful to be able to sit the boys down with a book while I'm otherwise occupied or when I am in desperate need of some quiet space.
They read at home. They find books when we are out and about visiting—and just sit down to read. They read in Costco. They spend most of our driving time reading (thank heavens they don’t get car sick!).
I don’t know how it happened. Not only are my boys strong, independent readers, but they are willing to read almost anything I put in front of them. I work hard (sometimes very hard!!) to find quality books that will appeal to them in a wide range of subjects and reading levels. If they really don’t care for a book, I try not to push it.
Levi, in particular, is such a good sport and reads such a challenging variety, that if he tells me he truly doesn’t care for a book I’ll just let it go. (And in return, I also overlook many of his own book choices that I don’t care for, knowing his main literary diet is a quality one.)
I often ask Luke to read just a couple pages or the first chapter or two of a book. Sometimes that does the trick, and he finishes the book. Sometimes he doesn’t like it at all, and we find a new selection for him.
Why am I telling you this? I’ve gotten several comments and questions about the reading lists I post as part of our weekly or monthly ‘reports.’
Are the books on our list read aloud, cover to cover? When I began this homeschooling journey, one of the things I was most excited about was being able to read all the great history and literature books with the boys. As it turns out, there are only so many hours in a day. And somehow I couldn’t wrap my head around that before. I WANT to read all those books aloud.
But the rest of our subjects are teacher-intensive. Keeping up with life is me-intensive. I have a 1 year old who needs a lot of attention. The 5 year old needs a lot of attention, and he would have to be duct-taped in order to sit still and quiet enough to sit with us. The 7 year old is profoundly visual, and he can only stand to be read to if he is smack-dab up against me with my fingers running under each word as I read. (I still hear ‘where are you?’ incessantly while I read.) (For what it’s worth, I hated being read aloud to when I was young for the same reason, and a great deal of the books would float by me unheard while I was daydreaming.) My 9 year old loves to hear books read aloud, but the interruptions are annoying and he could read about 10 books in the time it takes me to read one aloud.
Excuses? Yep. But I’m human (even lazy on occasion, gasp), and I can only do so much.
And so—most of the books on our list are read independently (cover to cover) by Levi and Luke. I read The Story of the World aloud. I try to have one book in process of being read aloud, even if it takes forever to finish. The other books range from simple picture books to much more challenging chapter books. I assign specific pages in the history encyclopedias to correspond with our studies (though they will probably have read them cover to cover by the time we’re done with our 4 year history cycle.) The longer chapter books are usually only read by Levi. I try to indicate which chapter books were read by which boy (or both) for my own records. Leif reads books here and there, but his reading is much more difficult to keep track of.
How do I choose which books to read? The history and literature selections correspond with our history studies. Last year they generally lined up with our Classical Conversations topics. This year they line up with the topics we are covering in The Story of the World. Many books are from the book lists in the SOTW activity guide. My sister and I own a large (ahem) collection of books, which we share. Otherwise, I keep in mind our up-coming history topics and see what our library has to offer. I scour Amazon for ideas.
For literature, I am trying to have the boys work through some classics chronologically. I use the literature lists in the reading sections of The Well-Trained Mind as a spring-board. I’d love to have our literature reading line up perfectly with our history studies, but I’m not that talented. As much as possible, Levi is reading unabridged versions, but we also do retellings (picture books, simple chapter books, audio CDs, and even movies). I try to find biographies of the authors as well. I love a good picture book biography!!
For free reading, I consult multiple book lists, recommendations from friends, see what pops out at me when I visit the library, and (again) scour Amazon.
How do I keep track of our reading? Right here. At the beginning of the month I start a post, add to it as we finish books, tasks, or activities, and publish it at the end of the month. That’s it. This blog is the sum total of my record keeping. Everything in one place, tagged by subject. Memories? Here. Photos? Here. Recipes? Here. Ideas? Here. Links? Here. Book lists? Here.
If you have managed to get this far, let me sum up: My boys are boys. But they are also readers. They make me (and our book lists) look really good. Nothing else in our lives is as consistent. (House cleaning, routines, meals, discipline, activities, bedtimes, whatever. At least the boys read. Ha!) And, in a sad turn of events, my own reading has gone ‘poof!’ into thin air.