I know some are wondering – almost shouting by this time, “What if my children don’t want to read aloud? What about bad attitudes? What if the whole thing becomes a power struggle?” In these cases it may be good to evaluate why family reading is not going well.
Sometimes the book is not engaging enough. It helps to establish the habit with books that everyone is very eager to hear.
We all have preferences; some books appeal to a particular child more than others. In this case I remind the frustrated child that there will be books in the near future that he will enjoy more. In the meantime he should listen for the sake of others and be patient. Then I earnestly try to choose a book that will interest that child for next read aloud.
To me family reading is essential and I don’t dismiss children from the practice any more that I would let a child who hates Geometry skip the class. But I do keep in mind the tastes and interests of my children and choose interesting – even delightful books – as much as possible.
If we start a book and none of us see its value or it’s not written well, I do not hesitate to lay it aside unfinished. But since I often choose a book that I have already read or has been recommended to us, this has only happened perhaps two or three times in twenty years.
Sometimes family reading disintegrates into misery on a particular day simply because one or more of us is miserable. In that case we put the book away and try again the next day. I try to consider the context. If my children are particularly tired or worried about school assignments that are due, I read for a few minutes and we move on with other activities.
If the problem is a character issue, then I have work to do, but I try not to let a child’s behavior rob the family of our reading time.
If you are interested in reading aloud as a family and need ideas about which books to read, check with your local librarian or family friends. And Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt is another wonderful resource. Happy reading!