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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not talking about teaching the kids to read, but more about how to incorporate reading aloud or other ways of enjoying books together. One thing that struck me from the day-in-the-life thread was that my kids' day involved no books. And that's not uncommon. Especially for the 7yo.

I guess it comes down to this: When I offer to read a book, my kids hear "a parent can dedicate time to focus on me right now." So, they might say yes, but might just as well propose a different attention-requiring activity: playing a board game, drawing, playing stuffed animals, watching a chemical reaction, whatever... Books are reasonably high up on my 5yo's list, but they still don't get chosen every day. They're pretty far down on my 7yo's list.

I've tried various different book genres and types. Occasionally there's a big hit and we have a book phase going for awhile, but there's no magic bullet there.

I'd like to have reading and books be a bigger part of my family's culture (and I do want them to learn to read eventually), but I just don't see how to get there.
 

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This is something we think about even though we don't have a LO yet. We were book people in our different ways, but have both gotten more screen-addicted. Our conclusions:

- show adults reading
- have interesting conversations about books and similar texts
- tell stories

Looking again at your post I'd suggest making reading part of the daily routine, so it's optional for the kids, but nothing else happens at that time as far as the adults are concerned. So like either you read a chapter of a book each night to whoever is interested or in earshot, or you read to yourself during that time if there are no listeners. After all a routine creates a habit...
 

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I have been listening to audiobooks in the car before having kids. I never changed that. As my kids got older I just changed the books. We have listen to all different kinds of books. Some of them are "kid" books and some are adult (like Jane Austen).

My 10yr is a real lover of stories. He enjoys all different books. D (7) is more picky about the books. So we all have a turn in picking.

We do read at bed time, too. So we have books as part of the day.


ETA - I just remembered that you don't drive. Maybe you could have a time where the kids play quietly and listen to a book. audio or you reading?
 

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Don't discount magazines/encyclopedias/graphic novels/historic accounts/comic books/cook books. Some kids don't get into fiction, my hubby was one and he'll still read primarily to learn about something, he likes the newspaper. Do your kids get a magazine subscription? I also used to pick up a lot of magazines from garage sales/used stores. We've had CHIRP/OWL, Highlights, National Geographic and MAD magazine subscriptions, my son will also read the Economist. At 7 he was probably reading Garfield and Guinness Book of World Records, he currently loves his book on the world history of wars, he's read it from cover to cover. Sometimes you can get books that have become cartoons, movies or shows, like TinTin, Asterix, Babar, Dr Suess (The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch), Madeleine, BarbaPapa. You can go to the library, just spend some time looking at what is there and they can pick out stuff at no risk/no cost, you don't have to limit yourself to the kids section. Or go to a thrift store, they can pick out whatever grabs them at low cost, find out what interests them.
 

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We read at bedtime. My kids' bedtime routine was posted on the wall and between "brush teeth" and "turn off light" was "reading." This was a wonderful time of snuggling and enjoying books. After I read them, I would let them read to themselves for another 15 minutes or so before turning off the light.


We also went to the library once a week (except during one year when we lived rurally and the library just wasn't a real option).
 

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A couple of quick thoughts to add:

1. True story - I get in the best reading with my 3 year old when he is going to the bathroom. It's one of the only times he is sitting still. ;-) I'm not necessarily recommending the bathroom for your kiddos but sometimes it helps to think outside of the box for times to read to them. Maybe once you reach a destination on a hike you always read a short story while you refuel? Have you ever read any of Clara Dillingham Person's books titled "Among the Forest/Pond People"? They were free a while back on the Kindle Unlimited and they are composed of short stories about different animals. I often read one of these when we take a break outside from doing something because it is so handy right on my phone.

2. Poetry Tea Time - This is a something I picked up from Bravewriter (http://www.bravewriter.com/program/brave-writer-lifestyle/poetry-teatimes/) and despite my initial misgivings that it would work with my two, active, young boys I have been pleasantly surprised. The nice thing for you would be that it would be a specific time that is dedicated to reading so you hopefully you wouldn't end up with the requests to do something else. And since I know I've seen poetry on math I'm just betting you could get your hands on some chemistry poems. :) Again, I'm amazed at how much my kiddos look forward to this event each week. We are on a 3 week adventure right now and even with being out of our routine they have still asked me if it is time for "Poetry Tea" yet?
 

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Yes, bedtime was our routine. But also during dishwashing. We had this agreement whereby we'd work together to do a full kitchen cleaning and hand-washing of dishes after supper, and one person's task would be to read aloud to entertain everyone. That person was usually me, although sometimes dh would take over and a couple of times my eldest read.

We tried audiobooks during quiet play, but they didn't work that well ... someone would wander off to pee or do something else or conversation would spring up and drown out the audio, and once they had missed a few minutes it was easy to lose interest. Still, if you have more of a one-room home, maybe it would work better for you.

You could set aside time for reading for yourself at a certain time of day, on a sofa where more than one person can sit, for a certain length of time. If the kids try to engage you, just firmly refuse, saying "Not until 3:30. This is my reading hour." But also subtly allow that reading aloud to them 'counts' as part of your reading hour, and you'd be happy to switch books and read aloud to them until the hour is up, if they want your attention and entertainment.

Mirnada
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I kind of like the idea that I take some time to read by myself, and tell the kids I'll read to them instead if they're interested. I suspect that my 5yo will jump at the idea, since she likes books anyway, and the 7yo may or may not join us.

The 7yo is the hardest kid ever to find books for (even if he picks himself at the library--he'll bring them home and not open them ever). He can't read yet. He loves science, but prefers to consume it in video/internet/hands-on/interactive app form. He knows his favorite subjects at an adult-ish level, but adult books don't often work for him. He cannot stand the slightest bit of suspense in his stories and will insist that I can't read anything that could possibly be considered scary, even in a whisper to his sister on the other side of the room. This cuts out so many chapter books that I've mostly stopped trying. He doesn't usually like movies either. So I read unicorn and princess-themed picture books to the 5yo, and he sometimes decides to listen too.
 

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We always carried books with us. If we ever had to wait in line, we whip out our books. The restaurants we frequented knew us because we were "the reading family" and more than once we were asked for our photograph of us waiting for our food to come ... all of us reading.

Hubby and I finish 2 or 3 books a week. The kids are grown but our daughter is the same. Our son reads a little slower, maybe one book a week but always seems to have his book for the bus stop or train ride he takes to work and school.

As a lifelong reader I call this a win.
 

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there are lots of science books for kids

But I'm guessing you've tried those, DK Eyewitness books are one series that are full of amazing photography, NG publishes a lot of kids books. Your son can't read at all? What about really small words like ones found on street signs or words on food labels? I think that was one thing my son was reading first, stop, one way etc. Does your school have a book program? Our school had Scholastics.
 

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The restaurants we frequented knew us because we were "the reading family" and more than once we were asked for our photograph of us waiting for our food to come ... all of us reading.
This is a total tangent, but we tend to do the same, except that we usually read from the Overdrive or Kindle apps on our phones. At home we'll use an eReader or actual books, but we try to also have a book loaded on our phones for times when we're waiting around and need to kill some time. My teens and I are always carrying cellphones because we don't have a land-line, and we operate on such different piecemeal schedules.

Anyway, if looks could kill! You wouldn't believe the snide, judgy looks we get from people when the three of us are sitting sharing a table at a café somewhere reading off our phones.

Sometimes I feel like it would be nice if we had a sign we could put on our table that said "We're reading literature for f*ck's sake!"

Miranda
 

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I was just in a little mom and pop grocery store where this woman kept up a conversation in line (a long one with a lot of people) and did not even have to courtesy to stop when paying the cashier. I think many people get burned out by public cell phone use. I too will carry an actual book if I think I am facing a long wait. I think I finished a 300/400 page novel while waiting in the hospital for crutches.
 

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I think this is a quite different form of disapproval, because it has nothing to do with us being rude or annoying to others. We're probably the quietest, least annoying folk in a café when we're reading on our phones. Strangers are simply judging us for our screen time and apparent social media use: "Oh look at that family, they're out for a meal together and they can't even put their friggin' phones away for a few minutes to interact with each other ... what is this plugged-in world coming to?" Pretty sure we'd get the same reaction if we were reading off tablets.

Yet if we were doing exactly the same thing with our books in paperback form, people would be smiling kindly, thinking how quaint and lovely we were, applauding our values and wanting to take photos of our sweet togetherness.

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
But I'm guessing you've tried those, DK Eyewitness books are one series that are full of amazing photography, NG publishes a lot of kids books. Your son can't read at all?
Occasionally he's into them. But screen-based offerings really can surpass books in many ways for learning science (and I'm a writer, so I'm a fan of books). Videos let you see actual chemical reactions happen, moving 3-D graphics are intuitive for explanations, interactive sites let you look up exactly what you're interested in at the moment, simulations let you actually play with science concepts beyond the reach of your own hands, trying stuff out and seeing what happens... As for reading, he can read some things, but not at a level that's useful when thinking about books he might be interested in.

With all these discussions of car rides and standing in line, etc... I'm realizing that one rather unique aspect of our particular rural lives is that there is basically zero waiting time.

Mirand -- I think it's silly to judge people for what they're doing that doesn't bother anyone, but some people would probably judge even with paperbacks. There's a set of people who think it's normal to read at mealtimes, and another set who think it's unacceptably rude.
 

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I was going to suggest a few things, but then after reading all of these great ideas (many of which we do at home and on the road), there is no point. :)

But one thing I thought I would try if I were you, given your specific situation with your science-minded/"how to" 7 y-o: what if you set a (mandatory, routine) time (even during suppertime, if he is still eating and an adult is able to read between mouthfuls) at some relaxed evening time or even once a week on every Saturday morning, for example, where you tell him, he gets to suggest a topic of interest to him in advance, and you will find something to read to him (whether a book, wikipedia description, online learning, how to build a volcano instructions, or whatever) in about a 10 minute or less snippet. The next "date" for this, you will read from that topic area just for him. It is sure to lead to questions, interesting commentary, maybe to a longer series of topics, or maybe just a random set of interesting topics that will help you both learn what he cares about. I also bet that, as he starts to read more himself, he will start wanting to read those things himself, or take away the book from you to look at it himself, when you are reading.

It seems like an in between stage approach, between a family reading and him doing it himself, and incorporates his interests while he gets to have some ownership over it in terms of topic. It could also be a time for just the two of you, but I think any 5 year old will want to hear whatever her older brother is interested in anyway....

ETA: the screen "chemical explosions" learning could be related back to the reading you just did, whereby you both go and look up some interesting sites to watch exactly what you just read about.... This is how I try to relate a lot to my family, such as reading about astronomy and seeing the pictures, then actually watching the eclipse video online and going to the observatory to see the stars in action afterward. Sometimes it works in the reverse, but I think in your son's case, you might need to get the reading in first. ;)
 

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some people would probably judge even with paperbacks
Yup, you're right. We actually have a rule that we don't read at the table during family mealtimes, since we get so few meals together. Cafés are a different matter for us, though ... we often use them like an office / library. We used to go to our local café with a pile of math and science books and whatever novels we wanted, and buy herbal tea by the pot and big plate of scones and fill a table during their quiet early afternoon hours. It was almost a weekly thing for us for a couple of years.

Do you guys read in the tent when you're camping? Or are you too busy? I find that we tend to crawl into bed shortly after dusk and except at the peak of summer light (which I know is much more extreme for you) that provides us with some prime evening time for readalouds.

Miranda
 

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What about write a "book" together. Making a silly story using your family's names and places you go. Then you can read it together having fun.

Just an idea?
 

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momto1, the OP's 7-year-old has science skills at a high school level if not beyond. He makes amazing YouTube videos about chemistry concepts. He's also interested family games, but more those that involve strategy aimed at ages 10+. He's an incredibly unique kid, and his mom does an amazing job of procuring him resources.

I think the request was more for general strategies about creating a reading culture within the family.

Miranda
 
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