New Tradition: Family Reading Time

Most of my blog posts are inspired by the work I do with my high school students. This post is inspired by my own children–ages 6 and 7. My children attend a Spanish immersion school, where they receive 90% of their instruction in Spanish. As part of their homework, they must read each day.

My daughter, who is in 2nd grade, is expected to read independently for 25 minutes a day in Spanish. She is an avid reader, who devours chapter books in both English and Spanish.

My son, who is in kindergarten, is just beginning to read. We do reading lessons at night, but I felt like he needed quiet time on his own to slowly sound out words and get comfortable reading without me looking over his shoulder.

So, we started family reading time!

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It’s simple. Every night we all go into the living room with our books and read quietly for 30 minutes. It’s been amazing! The kids absolutely love it. They literally chant “family reading time” as they skip into the living room because they are so eager to read. The magic of family reading time is that we all do it together. My husband and I stop whatever we are doing and we all read. It’s becoming one of our many family traditions.

Not only does this make it easier for the kids to complete the required reading for homework, but it also sends the clear message that we, as a family unit, value reading. As an English teacher, it’s incredibly important for me to instill the love of reading in my children. I love these quiet moments together. I would encourage every family to try this!

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12 Responses to New Tradition: Family Reading Time

  1. Adrienne Fermoyle says:

    I LOVE hearing this in the midst of our digital age! Growing up in Michigan meant a lot of time indoors when too cold to stay outside for very long. My favorite part of winter meant Saturday trips to the library! What a luxury it was to be able to pick out 10 books.

    Reading is not only an important skill, but such a wonderful pleasure. No matter where you are in life, books can transport you to different times, places and adventures using your imagination instead of watching it on a screen.

    So delighted you are blogging about this and encouraging others to turn off their devices and spend quiet time together!

    • Leslie Scharf says:

      I too, love going to the library. I feel like I am in a candy store without the calories. I love when you visit Adrienne and we just have our sit and read times. Life is good, and full of beautiful adventures that sometimes you might only find in a good book. :-). Calgon take me away!

  2. This is a fantastic idea! I have been working on this with my first grader (who is not an avid reader). Slowly but surely we are building a reading routine. We find this works best just before bed.

    • Yes, we also do this right before bed. It’s a nice way to slow down the pace of the day. I find my 6-year-old falls asleep much faster after we’ve had family reading time. He has also improved exponentially as a reader since we started our family reading time.

      Catlin

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  5. Linda Harrison says:

    Catlin,
    Your grandfather, Ken Fermoyle, sent the link to me for your post.

    As a retired high school librarian, I was excited to see that you have established a “family reading time” when everyone reads!

    I had 2 groups of students at the school where I worked: the avid readers and those who did not like it. I used to tell the non-readers that they just had not found a subject or book that interested them.

    When parents exhibit good behavior, their children often follow in their paths. Of course, there may be exceptions, but one may hope for the best! So your behavior is a good model for your children!

    Congratulations on your past success with your books, seminars, and speaking engagements.

    Linda Harrison

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog and post a comment! I have to be honest that I enjoy family as much as the kids. It’s so fun to have a few minutes each day to indulge in reading.

      I agree. I have noticed the same trend in students, and I’ve responded much the same way you do. I think most kids who don’t like to read just haven’t been reading the right books (for them). It’s a big part of the reason I do silent sustained reading each day. I want students to have an opportunity to select a book from any genre and get lost in it. I know they won’t always love what I choose, so it’s a way to honor their interests and try to cultivate a love of reading.

      Take care!

      Catlin

  6. Leslie Scharf says:

    Catlin, of course you probably know how much I love this! My great nephew Canyon who lives with me is a good reader but it is sometimes hard to get him to settle down to read. We read together. It is so fun, we have family dinner night where family comes over on Sunday’s and we all share in reading either one of his books or for example, the book your grandpa is writing. He now can read with expression when he reads out loud. He is entering 3rd grade so now we have to focus on him reading to himself. This is where your idea works. I am changing family reading time to be like yours. Of course this will really work for me so I can read my books too. I am pretty impressed that your daughter reads in both English and Spanish! That is pretty amazing. Take care!

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  8. Olga says:

    What a great idea! Does everyone share what they’ve read about at the end of the family reading time? It would be very helpful for “digesting” the new information, I think. I normally remember more from what I read after I have shared it with someone.

    • That’s a good suggestion, Olga, but we don’t talk about our reading. My daughter is older than my son by two years, so I don’t want her to ruin stories he might read by giving away key details. Most of what I read probably wouldn’t be of interest to the kids. Maybe when they are older we can do that!

      Catlin

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