Last night my family visited the beautiful farms, mills, and forests of Connecticut. It was the New York subway station and a special musical cricket that drew their focus last week. Before that it was Central America that held my children’s awe as they followed a Spanish conquistador in his hunt for gold. Some of our best journeys have been to Russia during the Bolshevik revolution, Ireland in the days of St. Patrick, Britain during its early Roman occupation, and the magical land of Narnia whenever Aslan paid a visit.
We are deliberately a reading family. As you can imagine for a guy with my energy level, slowing down, sitting in a chair, and reading a book are all challenging tasks that rub the wrong way against the grain of my temperament. Much like eating vegetables, we know reading is good for the kids, so Ashley and I choose to slow life down to read books to our children. Also, much like eating veggies, if you keep doing it, you eventually learn to like it. So our time frequently finds the Wiles family travelling through India, braving the rough seas in the new Americas, or travelling west in pioneer caravans as we read aloud.
Reading to your kids has been proven to be a big benefit in their lives. In a 2018 New York Times article titled “New Guidelines From Pediatricians,” doctors of medicine found that parents reading to children is a valid way to help kids with their behavior and attention span issues, and it’s as cheap as a library card. Researchers shared, “The parent-child-book moment even has the potential to help curb problem behaviors like aggression, hyperactivity, and difficulty with attention, a new study has found.” I struggle with attention deficit and we know a lot of families with kids struggle too. Focus on the Family researchers tell even more bonuses in their aptly title article “The Benefits of Reading to Your Children.” Children that are regularly read to at home generally:
- · “Read better, write better and concentrate better.
- · Are quicker to see subtleties.
- · Have an easier time processing new information.
- · Have a better chance for a successful, fulfilling adult life.
- · Have many interests and do well in a wide variety of subjects.
- · Develop an ability to understand how other people think and feel.
- · Acquire the ability to sift information and to understand how unrelated facts can fit into a whole.
- · Tend to be more flexible in their thinking and more open to new ideas.
- · Weather personal problems better without their schoolwork being affected.”
I know it’s hard. I’m a sporty, outdoorsman who would naturally rather put a hammer, baseball, or fishing rod in my kids’ hands than a book, but even I see the big benefits of book-time for my kids. I’ve witnessed so much good for my children and wife, that I’ve even increased my quality reading consumption by joining a book club at the White County Public Library (this month we’re reading a horror book!). The Wiles family has been blessed to organize our schedule to include ample amount of book-time, and we hope your family will experience the benefits too. Here are a few of our suggestions as you and your children digest regular reading together.
- · Kids react differently to reading. Gabriel could sit perfectly still and listen while Ethan struggled. Putting a hot wheels car in Ethan’s hand and letting him lay on the floor to play with it made a world of difference in his attentive abilities.
- · Make time for reading before bed. Yes, we have hard and fast lights-out times for our kids, but those deadlines aren’t as important as ending the night on a positive connection.
- · Involve mom, dad, older siblings, and grandparents in the reading repertoire. You will all choose different book subjects, giving the kids a variety of adventures, relationship connections, and funny voices to imitate.
- · Be patient with your kids learning to read. One of our boys learned to read chapter books at 4 years old. Another struggling with dyslexia and didn’t pick it up till 6. Now, they are both voracious readers!
- · Keep reading. Our eldest is twelve, and he still enjoys being read to!
- · Force yourself as an adult to read a book, too. It helps my mood, attitude, & blood pressure!
If you’ve got questions or are looking for tips for reading lists, the internet has a wealth of information on the topic, but we’ve found that our local White County Librarians are very well-versed in this area of study and are happy to help. Go ask them for age appropriate suggestions and you’ll be amazed at the variety of fun titles they’ll offer!
Here’s a few of the Wiles family book recommendations for reading aloud to children 12 years old and younger.
- · The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- · The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (yes, even my five year old loves it!)
- · The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner (the originals are best)
- · The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
- · The Russian Saga (or anything else) by Gloria Whelan (best for older elementary/middle school)
- · The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- · The Roman Britain series (good for middle school age) by Rosemary Sutcliff
- · The Mercy Watson Series (great for younger kids) by Kate DiCamillo
- · The Beginners Bible (for young kids) and the NIrV (for older kids) all inspired by God.
We saved the best for last in our list; we’ve been blessed to spend Bible time together every single day of our kids’ lives. If you’d like to ask more questions or make more suggestions to us, please email us at email@example.com or call the office at Central Church of Christ at 931-836-2874. May you have many years of happy reading!
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4
The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength. Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself. If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.