When I was younger, you could always find me with a book in my hand – Bailey School Kids, Dear America, American Girl (Molly was my favorite). I loved books that featured fiction, as well as historical events that I was learning about in school. I was fortunate to enjoy reading, but I know that is not the case for so many. While my passion for reading continued throughout high school, in college, as it happens to so many, my love for reading stopped. It felt like more of a chore with reading endless homework assignments, journals, and uninteresting material. Of course, there were other things to occupy a college student’s time as well. So I stopped reading for fun.
It took me nearly 10 years to find my desire to read again. As a self-proclaimed “lifelong learner”, it saddens me to think of the opportunities I missed over the years to learn new things, and better myself.
In summer 2019, I happened to be listening to NPR and heard an interview with author, Elin Hilderbrand, discussing her new book, Summer of ’69. It sounded incredibly interesting – especially since it incorporated fiction with historical events – very reminiscent of the books I loved as a young person. Of course, when I went to the library to check out the book, there was a waitlist. So I opted for a different Hilderbrand book, The Perfect Couple. It was wonderful, I could not put it down. I missed that urge to finish a book, to know what happened as quickly as possible. I found much fulfillment when I finished. It reminded me why I love reading.
From there, I knew my reading couldn’t end. In one year, I read every Elin Hilderbrand novel – which I highly recommend (28 Summers and the Winter Series are my favorites). Since that time, I’ve read the entire Outlander series (it’s an investment of time, the books are incredibly long, but worth it). Now, I found a new author, Kristin Hannah, who has a beautiful, and easy writing style that makes you feel like you’re reading about friends.
In addition to my own return to reading, I found another benefit – my children recognized the power of reading. We were always reading to our children, but since I began reading again, our family reading time increased greatly. Again, very fortunate that reading came easy to my oldest child. I know that is not the case for everyone. During virtual learning, she embraced reading even more and found her own series of books (Frankly Frannie, Judy Moody, and Eerie Elementary).
Looking for ways to keep our children entertained during the pandemic, we began reading longer chapter books aloud as a family. It has honestly been one of the best things that has happened to our family. Our children – 8, 5, and 3 – all listen. To keep them interested, we picked many books that have been turned into movies. After we finish the book, we watch the movie and compare.
Here are some fun ideas:
• After we read The Chocolate Touch, we had a chocolate sundae party.
• After reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we watched the movie. I also created “golden ticket” candy bars for each child (Kwik Trip’s candy bars use gold foil and they were perfect for the occasion). We also picked out some Wonka Candy to try.
• Other books we read and then watched the movie: Matilda, Ramona (series) and James and the Giant Peach
• Pick a favorite book and dress up as a character (We do this very often and it is a hit with the kids.)
In addition to the many proven benefits of reading, countless books we’ve read have provided the opportunity for our family to learn about other cultures, traditions, and social discussions that are vital to helping our children learn compassion and acceptance. Here are some of our favorites: My Princess Boy, Harlem Grown, Grandfather’s Journey, The Keeping Quilt, Parker Looks Up, When We Were Alone, and The Youngest Marcher.
What I learned from all of this – it’s never too late to rediscover a passion. I hope you can love reading again, just as I did.