Reading In Front of the Kids, Not Just With Them

by GfG on January 29, 2014 · 6 comments

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I have a funny story…. so, sweet Esther was reading her new favorite book series next to me in bed one day when she looked at me and asked, “Mama, have you ever read a whole book?”

Yes, of course, sweetie.  Lots of them.

Moh-um.  I mean it.  A whole book.

(insert my shocked and questioning face here)  Yes!!  I have.  Lots!

(insert her tilted head and smirking smile… that turns into a serious dubious look with raised eyebrows)

The stinker didn’t believe me!!  I was beyond shocked.

How in the world could she possibly think I had never read an entire book?!  I was bummed.  Paul was entertained.

I realized that though I have read many read loud novels to her, she hasn’t realized when I’ve been reading for pleasure.   And it matters that she realize I am doing it.

{OH, for Pete’s sake… while I was typing this up, Esther sat next to me again, so I asked her, “Remember when I was reading that loooong book on my Kindle when we went to the beach?  And I cried when it ended?”  Again she says, “A whole book?”  THEN Paul Louis chimed in, “Mama, a whole book…. by yourself?!”

Clearly read alouds are the kids assisting me with a book and doesn’t count as me reading a book by myself.  Which makes a little sense because I wouldn’t count it for them either.}

I didn’t matter that I read all of Les Miserables while we together on two beach trips.  Or that I read L’Abri, and wept.  Or that this fall I read The Book Thief, and bawled.  Or that I have a stack of books consistently on (or in) my nightstand.

The deal is, I didn’t take the time to make sure she noticed me reading.  The odd part about all of this was that when I taught deaf children in the public school, I implemented a sustained quiet reading time every day and I read too.  I knew it was important that they saw an adult reading for pleasure.

View #3 WEB

Why is it important for children to see adults they admire reading? 

Well, there is the practice what you preach gig, of course.  If I tell my kids that reading is good for the brain, important, and a great habit, then I should demonstrate that.   Kids have much more free time, of course, but a good habit is a good habit.  Even if it’s a ten minute habit.

Then there is the whole encouragement aspect.  If kids want to be encouraged to read, the best encouragement is modeling by the ones they love the most.

Parental pleasure reading can also intrigue the hesitant reader.  I’ve been known to read a children’s book that I believe my hesitant reader would just love, in front of them.  I grin.  I sigh.  I giggle.  I swoon.  It has worked.  “Hey, could I read that when you are done?”

If I used the reason of not enough time, then I could be encouraging the belief that busy people can’t or don’t read.  This just isn’t true.  We all know it’s about priorities.  Again,even  ten minutes is something.

I read so often that it never occurred to me that my children may not be noticing.  Especially the younger ones.  I will admit that I don’t read as often as they do, nor as often as I used to.  My (non Bible) reading mostly involves articles on the internet, occasional non-fiction books, and a few fiction books a year.

I’d love to read more and I guess my babies have provided the incentive.


So… Here are the steps I’m taking to make sure my children know I read for pleasure.  Whole books, even.

1. I take the book off my night stand.  I most often read in bed at night, when the kids are in asleep.  Naturally.  BUT that doesn’t help the kids see me reading, even if it does help them see that I love books.  Or piles of books.

If it’s just for five minutes in the school room during a break, I grab the book and take it into the public realm.  Where the children can see me reading.

2. I talk about the book I’m reading.  I can bring up my book at the meal table or just any ol’ time.  It doesn’t matter.  I just need to share that I’m enjoying it or there was a beautiful scene.  Whatever.  How Esther missed me bawling my eyes out on the hammock at the cabin is a bit beyond me, but somehow she did.

Kids are often in their own little world as far as what they notice, so I have to be proactive.

3. I ask them to come read with me wherever I am.    Or I join them where they are.  My kids are required to read a lot for school.  They have both assigned historical fiction books and pleasure reading every day.  Every once in awhile, I just snuggle up to them while they are reading or ask them to come read with me.  They love it.

I don’t do all of these every day, of course.  I aim for at least one.  Really, the 80/20 principle applies. I’m just trying to make it more of a lifestyle.  A habit for my life.

For my children.

I’m pretty sure I’ll benefit too.

Eventually, Esther and Paul Louis will believe me that I can read an entire book.  By myself.

Do you read in front of your children?


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Vilmaris Conigliaro January 29, 2014 at 11:04 am

Love this, my daughter is only 7 months old but we are always reading books around her and we almost never have the tv on. I’ll be sharing this post :)


Prairie Momma January 29, 2014 at 11:05 am

I started this when I was teaching in the gov’t system. I would read aloud 3 days a week, and we would all read (including me – not grading papers) the other 2. Naturally, I just carried this over into my own family when Rebecca came along. We will often be sitting in the living room in the winter by the fire, with everyone sitting and reading their own book. As you get to know me, though, you will begin to understand that it doesn’t end there……no, no, no, no….. After one person reads a GREAT book, then it’s passed around with these words, “Hurry up and finish it so we can discuss it!!” Yep! We LOVE to discuss books, sometimes for hours or even years later (movies, too). The greatest moment in my momma reading life was when one child brought me a book and said, “Hurry up and read this so we can discuss.” Love the books. Love the discussions. Love my family!!!


GfG January 30, 2014 at 9:35 am

The entire thing was mind boggling. I read a lot. The older kids thought it was hilarious. Tried to defend me. :)
Family reading night will be instituted PRONTO!


PrincessR January 29, 2014 at 7:18 pm

hehehe! I could just see their cute faces looking at you with a smirk!!! If only they knew how many you have read!!!

Cute story, thanks for the encouragement!


Uncle Mediocre January 31, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Great blog Mindy! First it made me think (ouch that hurts), it’s not just reading. Our kids will do and not do what they see and don’t see us doing. This can apply to so many things. For me it hits home with TV or cell phones. (Yes I know we are so worldly, we still watch TV. Sherlock mainly, it’s you’re fault! JK) It definitely convicted me to be more conscious of what my kids observe and what I want them to observe. Second, it makes me realize the value of print books. When we have our faces stuffed into an iPad or a Kindle or any type of e-reader, our kids have no idea what we are looking at. Instinctively, they want to stuff their faces into an iPad or Kindle or e-reader. So…. I’ve been wavering back and forth about print books vs eBooks and I think this sealed the deal!


GfG January 31, 2014 at 3:09 pm

What great thoughs, Heath ( will, except for the balking me for Sherlock…. Actually, I’ll take that)! I had never considered the reader appearance of not actually reading. Thank you for chiming in!


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