Friday, January 5, 2018

Our Family Reading Culture

I haven't posted here in a long time and I suspect that I have lost any readers that I may have had but that's o.k.  I like to use this space for me, anyway, and it's a fun way to create a kind of an online journal of the things that make me happy.  It's been a very, very busy fall, given my inability to say 'no' which has led to new roles as the secretary of the skating club AND the registrar for Scouting in our town, along with all of my current involvement at church.  I can't lie, while it is NUTS, it's also been so much fun, since all of these activities allow me to be involved with my kids and the things that they are passionate about!

One thing that has made me happy for years (and my cluttered beside table attests to) is reading.  I love books, I love reading, I love getting books in the mail and from the library and, most of all, I love finding books that become part of our family.  I grew up the daughter of an Anglophile and traditional English books were a huge part of my childhood.  I have wanted to share that gift with my own children.

With a 7 year old boy and a 10 year old girl and time at a premium, it's challenging, sometimes, to ensure that we are reading as much as I would like.  We have tried to find books that both kids enjoy and that has actually been easier than I thought.  We went through a HUGE Dick King Smith phase (the Author of Babe: The Sheep Pig and the Sophie series as well as many other wonderful tales).  We dabbled in Roald Dahl but honestly, that wasn't such a success.  We have also spent a lot of time with the Famous Five by Enid Blyton (although there are a few that were just too scary for my son) and we have also been big fans of the Magic Faraway Tree series, also by Enid Blyton.

There was also the wonderful discovery of audiobooks as a family, after a particularly contentious drive up north when the bickering about DVDs in the car led to mom losing her cool and declaring that we would never watch a movie in the car again.  That left me scrambling for a way to keep the peace and minimize the whining on the three hour drive up to visit grandparents that led us to discover the wonderful world of Harry Potter.

Recently, I discovered the podcast Storyformed via Sally Clarkson (I will try to write a post about her book Different at another time, which was EXACTLY what I needed at a particularly challenging time).  I don't want to describe the podcast too much and get the details incorrect but allow me to say that this is a wonderful podcast about the impact of wonderful children's books and books that are so worth reading with your children.

More importantly to me, the Christmas podcast, Episode 20,  has been such a gift.  We do the "Pinterest" Christmas idea that I discovered a few years ago in which we wrap 24 Christmas books and read one each night (these are all previously read books but the kids still adore finding favourites from years ago).  I wanted to take the reading a bit deeper and a few of the suggestions from this episode have already become a part of our family Christmas culture and I am so grateful.  I love the way that books can build connection between the members of our family.

The book we have enjoyed the most, and that is perfect for the age of my kids, is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.  We bought it on Audible on sale, no less, and it was worth every minute that we have spent listening.  My son, in particular, laughed and laughed and laughed and the kids kept begging me to listen to a bit more before turning it off.  The Herdman family have become a joke in our family and my kids keep trying to come up with different scenarios that fit the idea of a Herdman adventure.  There were also wonderful lessons to be learned in the true meaning of Christmas (which sounds like such a cliche and yet is so true).  We have listened to the book three times through on drives this Christmas season and all four of us have enjoyed it.  I think I am going to have to buy a paper copy, just to have a place of honour on the shelf with our other Christmas favorites.

We also discovered a wonderful book by J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters from Father Christmas.  He wrote and mailed letters to his own children from Father Christmas over a 20 year period and this wonderful book is a compilation of his letters to his children outlining the adventures being had by Father Christmas.  My children and I are loving this so far!   The kids are enjoying the illustrations and accompany each letter.  I was worried that they would find it too dated but, in fact, I think that the historical nature of the letters is actually making them more exciting for the kids.

I hope to post more regularly about what we are reading and how those books are impacting our families and I hope that, should I find any audience here, that you would be willing to share books that you are finding are enjoyable for your family.

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