In a comment on this post, Nina asked about our read-aloud routine. I realized the answer was complex enough to warrant a post of it’s own. Read-alouds are the most consistent part of our day. They are the one thing M and C can count on doing every day, typically at the same time. I make room for reading aloud on even the most crazily scheduled days. Sometimes this means we have to eat peanut butter sandwiches for dinner because I don’t have time to make anything else (not that the girls mind that).
Read-alouds are the one thing I almost never say no to. M regularly uses reading time to wrangle a few more minutes before bedtime. When we travel, we often lug along a laughably enormous bag of books so we’re sure to have plenty to read while we’re away.
Most days, I read picture books to C before her nap. Then I read a chapter book to M once I put C down. We do the same thing at night. Brent or I read picture books to C and the other one reads a chapter book to M. We generally read with M for 20-30 minutes both of those times. We shorten reading time on busy days, and occasionally we miss the afternoon session because we are gone on an excursion. We also occasionally fit in read-aloud sessions during lunch or after breakfast, and more rarely, we do some reading in the afternoon before dinner. If one of the girls asks to be read to and I can spare the time, I’ll read.
C occasionally listens in to chapter books, but typically, I read chapter books when she’s in bed, playing with her dad, or well-occupied with toys. I have read with her climbing me and trying to grab the book from my hand or with her wailing because M got to pick the book that time. M and I have gotten rather adept at focusing on the story despite her antics. More often than not, C will eventually settle down to listen or go get her own book and “read” it to herself. Lunchtime reading sessions tend to go well because she is occupied with eating playing with her food.
Nina also mentioned that her daughter asks lots of questions during reading sessions so they don’t get very far with their books. This is something I have struggled with at times, more earlier on in our foray into chapter book reading. I want to encourage M to ask questions, to be engaged with the story, but I also don’t want to stop so much that we lose continuity. I have at times asked that she wait until I finished a 2 page spread before I stop for questions. If we are close to the end of a chapter or if the chapter is short, I will ask that we finish a chapter first and then go back and talk about it.
Sometimes now I read for so long without any questions or comments from M that I worry she’s stopped listening so I’ll ask her a few questions to see if she’s comprehending the story. Usually she is, I’m amazed how well she can listen while dancing around or building a pillow fort or ignoring her sister’s loud singing.
And as C gets older, I’m sure we’ll do a regular morning reading session where I read a chapter book to both girls. Our reading will change in other ways too. Soon I hope to add a time of silent family reading where M reads a book on her own and C has a stack to look through, but I intend to keep reading aloud daily even when both girls can read on their own.