Creating Family Reading Culture

If you love to read, if you want to love to read, if you have a struggling reader, if you are looking for amazing booklists for any age, if you want to be astonishingly inspired to make meaningful and lasting connections with your kids, or if you want to create a family reading culture - stop what you are doing right now & add Sarah Mackeznie’s new book, The Read Aloud Family, to your amazon cart! I found Sarah early in my parenting journey a few years ago through her blog & I can honestly say she has changed. my. life. As a fellow ENFJ, I fell in love with her blog, her podcast, The Read Aloud Revival, and have successfully implemented her ideas & followed her free, up to date booklists, happily to the T! (my current favorite Books Boys Love). As a past librarian herself, mother of 6 kids from toddler to teen & extensive expertise with literature, she will more than inspire you to quality and quantity reading time to your family life. 

Coming from a family of bookworms, I have always loved to read, but Sarah has brought me to a new level as a mom. Digging deep into the why, she convinces you how almost every parenting goal - from increasing academic success, nurturing empathy, faith & morality, relationships, inspiring heroic virtue, healthy eating, sleeping through the night, etc. - can all be met through reading aloud with your children. She shares personal testimonies of how stories read with her kids “bind her family together,” are like “special inside jokes between them,” “allow all kinds of characters to become your best friends,” and “transport you to travel to all kinds of times & places together.”  It has already been a joy to begin some of this with our kids, “Nicholas, you don’t want to sound like Veruca Salt!” “Oh, you are setting sail like Stuart,” or “Dominic, you don't want a bath like Harry!” 

Sarah makes the case that out of your crazy, busy, time sensitive parenting schedule, the best time spent all day may very likely be that which you spent reading with your kids. “If you want to make sure you parental time and energy will make the biggest difference and best impact in your child’s academic life, look no further than the closest bookshelf.” 

We are so tempted to distraction In our technology driven world, but “when we read with our kids, we step outside the noise, the hustle, the friction, and for just a few minutes, we are completely and totally present with them.” 

It is no new news how transformative the role of books and story can have in our life. Jesus did leave us with his WORD, after all, and was the expert in using story to convey His message.  I remember reading that the great Saint Pope John Paul II’s most treasured possession was books. Prior to his pontificate, a friend visiting him commented on his room, where do you even sleep? The room was so filled with books that he couldn’t spot this future saint’s bed.  

Sarah explains how we can easily follow Jesus' example in this, “If you want a child to know the truth, tell him the truth. If you want a child to love the truth, tell him a story.” And that is what I want for my family.  “Story makes us fall a little more in love with the world we live in and the people God made to live here with us.” Allowing the stories I read to my children speak for themselves, and teach the lessons I am striving to teach them, “What better education can we offer our children than the shaping of their hearts to love others as we have been loved by God ourselves?” - Sarah Mackenzie 

I could easily quote her entire book, (I may have highlighted the entire thing ;) - that is how good it is! Thanks to Sarah, in our home we are “creating our family culture around books,” finding joy and family unity in sharing stories, and almost never go a day without reading aloud together! 

Some tips I have learned from her & some favorite things about her new book: 

  1. Put books in every room of your house. We have at least 1 or 2 book baskets in every room that we use downstairs, and stacked by all of our nightstands and reading chairs in our rooms. “Home is the only place in which our children have a fighting chance of falling in love with books.” Sarah Mackenzie 
  2. Use your library. Use the RAR booklists and save the books you want ahead of time so they will all be ready for you to just grab when you get there. 
  3. Read Aloud. Every day if you can. One of my favorite Sarah Mackenzie’s quotes, “If you read aloud 10 minutes every other day to your kids, that would be reading 30 hours over the course of a year. 30 hours! You could read aloud the entire Chronicles of Narnia TWICE in that amount of time!" 
  4. Read a book yourself. Actions speak louder than words with anything with we are trying to instill in our children. Even if its the same 1 or 2 books over the course of a year, your bible, your cookbook or light novel, anything counts.
  5. Listen to The Read Aloud Revival Podcast. Start with episode 1 and I doubt that you will not become instantly hooked to hear more. And of course, read The Read Aloud Family. 
  6. Learn the art of conversation of books. Chapters 10 & 11 of Read Aloud Family delve into this, and I was so inspired that I copied her questions & taped them to the back of my kitchen cabinet for reference. I love the quote she uses from Alice Ozma in The Reading Promise, “The books are important, but the conversations they started and the bonds they created are what really matter.” 
  7. Keep a list of books you read. She describes the power of writing down the books you read to your kids or for yourself. As a fellow list lover, I loved this & keep a running document of the books I read personally & the chapter books we read as a family. I'm determined to double my personal reading this year from 20 books in 2017 to 40 in 2018 :) 

I hope this inspires you a little in your own home, to the power of reading aloud & the transformative power of a story! In the words of Sarah Mackenzie, “A good story gives shape to the human experience and touches us in our innermost places. It picks us up right where we are and leaves us somewhere else - changed, transformed, more awake and alive and aware.” 

Thank you so much Sarah for all of your dedicated work! Happy Reading friends, I promise it will bring you joy :) 

In Joy,

Alex 

Alex DeRoseComment