Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reading With Boys

This has proved to be trickier for our family
than I could have predicted.
Early on, it wasn't so tricky.
They liked me reading to them
while they nursed, before naps and bedtime,
when they were younger.
But then they grew and got more active
and the challenge began!

The boys have other things they prefer to do
rather than sit and read or listen to a story.
They have active bodies and minds and need
to keep their hands busy doing something.
They learn by experiencing, rather than passively listening.
That's a healthy thing!

Consulting about Roblox

Cousins and Toy Weapons: Two Favorites

But how to keep reading alive when they would rather move and play than sit and be read to or read?

A friend of mine, a mom of 2 boys, suggested I read to mine while they play video or computer games. That has worked okay. Being the person I am, I wish they would just listen attentively and love every minute of it. But I am becoming more accepting that they are who they are and that they enjoy books and stories in their own way. The reading-during-the-video game thing didn't work too well for us, but toys or other manipulatives have. {To view a video I made related to this, click HERE}

They sometimes listen best when they are sitting still and can't get away, and listening in the van as we drive has been the best success so far. We listen to scriptures and positive music a lot this way and they really like and ask for it.

I have discovered that the boys will sit through me reading aloud to them
when I read books I want them to hear, such as books on the Year 1 Charlotte Mason Home Education/Ambleside Online list, like Fifty Famous Stories Retold, Aesop's Fables, and Kipling's Just So Stories.
I just read a page or a story at a time, depending on their attention-level.

But, their favorite read-alouds so far are Shel Silverstein's poems and Homer Price. Indian in the Cupboard they have really liked on audiobook, as well as The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Often, I read to them while we eat
a snack or lunch.
Nothing like reading about a doughnut machine
while eating homemade cinnamon rolls!
{Plus of home education}
Another benefit of anchoring reading to mealtimes
is that it helps me to remember to do it!

 I think that making reading a normal part of our day has helped encourage the boys to pick up books of their own choosing, along their line of interest. It has been important to the boys to have books around on topics that interest them, not just Mom or Dad. Star Wars and Lego have been two top interests here.

My oldest is perusing a book about the Star Wars movies in the photo to the left...he pointed out to me when I was typing this post that he was looking at the book upside down, on purpose. Ha! Funny kids.
Let 'em read however they choose! Even upside down...

 Another way we read regularly is at nap time.
I couldn't skip it if I tried! 

My 3 year old son brings me a stack of books
and tells me to come lay down on the bed with him and baby!
And read books!

How can I resist?

Finally! A chance to read A.A. Milne
and Beatrix Potter to a captive audience!

I think these will be a part of
the most special memories
I will treasure most when
this time of mothering
small children is past.

Another tender sight:
biggest bro reading
to baby or littlest bro picking up her
favorite board book and 'reading' it
just the way he's heard me read it
so many times before.

That is a sweet reward to me.

Reading certainly is a journey that has its own twists and turns, both for a child learning and also as a family culture evolving. While reading instruction can be helpful many times, nothing can take the place of making meaningful memories as a family at home with books and stories.

If you are curious about how other families choose 'living books'
or what reading looks like for other homeschool families,
you might enjoy a visit to this month's Charlotte Mason (Homeschool) Blog Carnival.

 What does reading look like at your place?


  1. Thank you for this post. It is always nice to know that we are not allone in the "reading to boys" world ;)
    I recently wrote a post about it too on my blog. (It's spanish but there is a translator)

    I have my boys rolerskating or juggling while they listen ;). Audio's in the car also work great for us.

  2. What a very touching post! I also shared about reading with my youngest child as moments I will treasure! Thanks for sharing your precious reading experiences.

  3. Even my big boy, 10 years old now, likes to do something while I'm reading. Legos and reading are a great combination. :-)

  4. I have 4 boys (and 6 girls), and I see them being more restless and active, too. But as they've gotten older, they're able to sit still and listen pretty well. We've read aloud together for many years. They know the routine and now they've accepted it, so it's much easier. I don't make them sit still to listen to family read-aloud until they seem ready. My 7 year old boy still doesn't sit in on the book I read with the older ones. But I read aloud other books to him and his twin sister.
    The point you make about making memories and the family bonding that happens is a great point. It is one of the best things that draws our family close to each other. We still read aloud together, and my oldest boy is now 20!

  5. Marvan, Thank you for sharing about the ideas for physical activity while reading. Juggling, that is a good one! My husband thought of an idea to help the boys with reading and spelling this weekend that involved Lego, and that has been a hit so far. It's so nice to chat with other mothers who understand about boys! I'm glad you stopped by!

  6. Penney, I find it so reassuring what you wrote about as they get older, the boys wanting to be read/read more. I have hope! I also think that is very heartening that your son who is 20 now still enjoys reading aloud, too. Thank you for your comment!

  7. I have 4 boys, and one thing that I found to help when I read is to have them stand on a wobble board. When I am reading something that is a bit longer I'll have my 5yr. do a puzzle and my 6 and 8 year old will take turns on the wobble board. It actively engages their body but they are still able to focus on what I am reading about. The big trick is... to stand on that and not fall off when the baby is trying to get on too. :)

  8. Oooh, a wobble board, that sounds like something my boys would love, and a puzzle is a great idea. My 7 year old loves to do puzzles of a different sort, the "find the hidden items in the picture" kind. I'll have to give that a go and see what happens. Gotta love what creative Moms of boys think up, thanks for sharing, Leah!


Thanks for your comment today! I love reading your thoughts, too. :-)