Well this took me a little longer to write than I had intended, but so it goes these days. And, with the confirmation of remote learning for much of the country this fall, maybe now is an even better time to share our read-a-thon experience.
I have always loved reading. My ideal vacation (if not out exploring a new place) is laying on a cabin porch under a canopy of pine trees reading the day away. I miss lazy days filled with reading my books… BUT, I have hope that in the future these days will return with my family reading alongside me. With this vision in mind, I am seeking intentional ways to raise my kids to love reading, and one idea that I found from author and Instagrammer, Miranda Anderson, was the idea of a read-a-thon at home. So about a month ago, we built the anticipation for our Saturday Family Read-a-thon and then dove in head first! Here is what we did and what we learned:
1. Make it an event! We set up our reading area by moving furniture and bringing in lots of pillows to lounge and feel like we had been transported to a special place for the day. We also brought in fun meals and snacks throughout our time spent reading together. Doing things without the typical rules and schedule regulating us, made it feel like a privilege and something to celebrate! And that is exactly how I want them to view reading: A privilege worth celebrating!
2. Commit to ALL read together. As tempting as it was to hop up and go take care of something or check our phone, or whatever, Rob and I committed to reading to and with the kids so it was something they could see was worth all of our whiles. For now, we were mostly reading what they wanted us to… Rob attempted to start a novel, but it didn’t happen. At four and six, they have short attention spans and require our attention in some capacity most of the time. This didn’t allow any deep dive into a book we wanted to read. However, by us having fun reading a day away together as a family, a seed has been planted, and I see lots more reading (and eventually independently reading novels on our own, together) in our future.
3. Bring in some new books to kick off the read-a-thon! Whether you check out a bunch of books from your local library or buy some new ones to beef up your own home library, the fresh additions will add excitement for the kiddos! We had just received an order from Usborne Books & More (my absolute favorite kids books) and Kellan and Bridget couldn’t wait to dig in.
If you are interested in checking out books from Usborne, I will be hosting an online book party on August 6th. These books have helped our family tremendously during this time of remote learning and I wanted to share with anyone that might also appreciate adding some to their home collection. (Clarification – I don’t sell these books. I just buy them and want to share with anyone else that might love them as much as we do.) All reward books that I earn for hosting will be donated to teen-parents and their kiddos at the high school where I teach. If you are interested in checking out the online book party, drop me a message below, on social media, or by text.
4. We set a goal of “100 Reads.” I found this chart on Pinterest and set the rules and goals to meet our family’s abilities and needs where we are at right now. For us, every short story read or listened to earned a point. So if I read a story aloud to the family, both Kellan and Bridget got to color in their own circle because they each listened to the story. When we had individual reading time, each reader earned their own point… even Rob and I got to color in circles for our reading, because it was a family challenge after all. And then, we decided chapter books would be worth one point per chapter. As the day went on, we adjusted scoring to maintain motivation and enthusiasm for reaching the family goal of 100 Reads.
5. Incentives! To motivate the kids to push to keep reading we plugged in some prizes at various points on the chart. If we reached 60 Reads as a family, we would earn a pizza party (being children of the 80s, we have a strong association between reading goals and pizza. Anyone else?) For hitting 70 Reads, we’d also get a special dessert at our pizza party, and for 100 Reads each kid got to order a new book of their choice. What better reward for reading is there than more reading?!
What I learned from using the points this way was that it gave motivation that built stamina in the kids. Because we were able to see our progress more quickly it then encouraged them to keep going even when they were starting to get tired and restless with our activity. By the mid-afternoon, we needed a little break. Rob and I went to straighten up the house and do a little laundry and when we came back to check on the kids, they were back in the reading room with the door closed. We were “not permitted to come back in” but listened at the door to them reading to each other and then marking off their reading progress. Now, might they have given themselves more points than I would have… possibly, but they were reading independently and together, and enjoying it. Mission accomplished! And they were beyond proud when they reached 100 Reads! Not only were we shocked at the success of this activity the day we did it, I have seen the lasting impact of just this one read-a-thon in the month that followed. Kellan has much more stamina in reading each day and is more willing to take on challenging books with this experience now under his belt.
I hope this helps inspire some fun reading activities for your family! I would love to hear in the comments what you’ve tried and what’s worked for your family. If you have enjoyed this post, please feel free to share and follow us on Instagram! Thank you!