What did you do last summer? Maybe you have some exciting vacation memories of your trip around the country to share or perhaps you crushed it in the summer fun area by creating an awesome bucket list and crossing each item off one by one right here in our own backyard. I’d love to hear your stories and see your pictures, as I’m one girl who truly enjoys a good tale of adventure!
Our family mostly stayed in town, but we did one thing that really stands out. We created a family book club. At first I was hesitant. My oldest daughter was 8 and not very into reading at all. My second devours books which can create a competition between those two. My youngest two daughters, ages 5 and 2, were only good for a few minutes of a story at the beginning of the summer. However, after listening to the Read Aloud Revival podcast a few times, I was ready to try.
Having a few criteria, I knew it was crucial which series I chose first. My daughters usually like relatable stories about other girls, and I wanted something that I remembered reading as a young girl myself. “The Ramona series! That’s it! They’ll love the dynamic between the sisters for sure!” I thought. And boy, was I right!
As I had heard on the podcast, it’s a good idea to “pin” your reading time to a part of your day so that it becomes a routine. Another great idea with all ages of children, is to make sure their hands can be busy with something. Even better (especially in my family) is when their mouths are busy with something, too! So I decided to make lunch time our read aloud time.
At first, I read from a physical copy of the book myself, but one day I decided to check the Hoopla app to see if there was an audiobook version. (Pssst…if you have a library card with the Palm Beach County library system or with the Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach, you already have a free subscription!) I found the entire series delightfully narrated by Stockard Channing and my kids were hooked. They discovered the deliciousness of devouring book after book of a series, and gained new insights into the larger world.
They began to beg for more Ramona each time we got in the van, and even at breakfast and dinner too. Countless questions flew at me as new words and ideas were introduced into their curious minds. What’s it like in Oregon? How come Ramona can walk to the park by herself? Suddenly, our family ties started to grow tighter as we bonded over the joys we discovered in these stories. The older girls actually started to beg to read ahead in the physical book because they couldn’t wait to listen to the audio version. Win-win in any mom’s book!
Last summer was the beginning of an explosion of reading in our home. Our weekly trips to the library are full of excitement now and we always have something to talk about. I know if I want to get my kids talking now, all I have to do is ask them about our newest read. The older girls are now really into reading on their own, but their favorite family pastime is still listening to books together at lunch. This works for our family because we homeschool, but you could make your read aloud time in the car or another meal perhaps. Or maybe it’s how you unwind together after a busy day right before bed.
As my daughters are growing older, I’m excited about this way we’ve learned to talk over books. It seems that it’s much easier for the older ones to talk about their feelings with me if they can connect their feelings to a situation or character in a story. They’ve also begun to get excited about talking books with their friends!
This weekend is a celebration of reading with National Read Across America Day on Saturday, March 2nd. This day, taking place on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, offers many exciting events right here in Palm Beach County.
The BAM! Books, Art, and Music Festival will be all day on Saturday on Clematis Street. Create more reading excitement by helping your children to meet some of their favorite authors and illustrators! I know my third daughter will be so excited to hear the author of the Princess in Black series will be there.
The Palm Beach County Library System also has several events scheduled throughout March to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday. My daughters have had so much fun at these events in the past.