I grew up reading avidly.
We weren’t allowed to watch tv except Little House on the Prairie, so I think I felt a bit deprived at the time, especially while all my other friends spent their Saturday mornings watching cartoons.
The tradeoff though, was an appreciation and excitement for books, for reading. On Fridays, we’d stop at the library and I’d check out the maximum limit of ten books, go home, get in the bathtub, and read a novel front to back, pausing only to add hot water. We’d get in bed at night at 7 and read until Mom yelled at us to turn out the light, hours later. And I recall waking up before sunrise often enough to keep reading before having to get up for school. Saturdays were a dream, where I could sit on the beach and read in between volleyball games, or in the cooler months, stay inside and read by the fire.
Now, in our house, we’ve promoted this sort of habit with the girls. Both J and I read, currently, it is more marketing and restaurant books. Sometimes inspirational or self help books. But the other day I was at the book store with the kids and bought myself “The School of Essential Ingredients.” I even started it last night and I can’t remember the last time I actually read a book that wasn’t teaching me more than what the story was telling me.
The girls have a reward system chart on the fridge. Their goals for each day are to a) keep their room clean b) respect each other (which is a nice way to say “don’t fight, hit, scream at your sister”) and c) listen to Mommy and J. At the end of each day, they get a sticker for each accomplishment and when they reach 25 stickers, they get a reward.
Last time it was a trip to Chuck-e Cheese.
This time, it was a choice to take a trip to the bookstore.
Oh and what a treat that was. To have kids who beg to read, who beg for new books, who beg for the library, who beg to trade books with each other, how did I get so lucky?
They each picked a book. Blue got this gorgeous Pippi Longstocking book.
Red chose a Roald Dahl book, which I found amazing, considering she seems to have already read about ten of them, it is hard to believe there are more out there!
The girls both have reading homework every night, and I found myself, in the beginning, begging them to read after school, but they weren’t interested since they were busy doing other homework, resting, playing, studying, doing flashcards. I thought back to my own childhood and the new plan was easy. For the last few years, the girls have been getting in bed at night and reading for 45 minutes, sometimes longer, in their beds. In the mornings, they no longer come traipsing in to wake us up, but I go pull them from their beds and their books to get them ready for school on time.
We got a good thing going and I have even had to make the “no reading at the dinner table” rule. (along with the “no Nintendo DS at the dinner table rule.”
Lastly, on J’s bedside table is a book I ordered for him a while ago. He has read most of it but I find he has been holding onto it and picking it up and re-reading pieces of it. He alternates this with Macworld magazine and restaurant books on cutting costs, employee satisfaction, and advertising. The book is “Soul Proprietorship”. And oh man, is it good. (I know this only because I read over his shoulder sometimes when he isn’t looking. I’m still waiting for my turn with it and considering my own copy.