Other families have Game Night or Movie Night. We have Book Night.

It started out as a means of self defense. We had two kids under the age of 5. My husband and I both had full time, demanding jobs, and he was pursuing a college degree at night.

Reading for Survival

I felt stretched, especially at bedtime when I tried to read a book or two to each child before they went to bed. But I was always racing from one bedroom to the other; the youngest wasn’t asleep yet as she heard me read to the older; he complained when I stopped reading to go soothe his sister. Bedtime was chaotic and I was exhausted.

So one Monday, as Dad studied, I let both children select 3 books and we all piled onto our big bed. My 5-year-old son tolerated the bunny and alphabet books his 2-year-old sister loved and she stayed quiet as I read about monster trucks and airplanes. By the time all 6 books were read, everybody was ready to go to bed and no one felt shortchanged.

Book Night quickly became a Monday tradition, then a Tuesday tradition, then virtually every night became a Book Night, except Thursday, the night I took the kids to an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet restaurant while my husband had a 4-hour class. The week developed a rhythm, punctuated by the excitement of choosing Book Night books at the library on Saturday. I still had a lot to handle, but Book Night enforced a structure that removed a lot of stress.

Related post: The Power of Daddy

When Tradition Grows Up

We read together like this for several years, until my son said I read too slowly and would rather read on his own. Mind you, this is the kid who started reading Dale Brown in first grade! My daughter and I gradually moved on to reading classics together and the last book I read aloud to her was The Secret Garden when she was in third grade. Then she could read faster to herself than I could read aloud, too.

But Book Night stayed with us. As we gathered in the evenings for dinner, everyone had to be reluctantly parted from their books for a time. At some point someone asked if they could read at the table and Book Night morphed into a dinner rather than bedtime event.

“Is it a Book Night?” someone would ask and invariably we’d each come to dinner with a book. The conversation always started by taking turns asking each other what was the best part of their day (sort of like the Waltons telling each other good night.) Once that ritual had been completed and discussed, we’d each read a bit. But far from being silent meals, we’d end up discussing the books we were each reading. Parents and kids alike learned of new books, (husband and son still regularly swap sci-fi) the kids learned to describe what they read and support their opinions, and we swapped our enthusiasm for all-family favorites like the Harry Potter series and the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Related post: A Lesson From The Great Gatsby

Not Just Survival, But Success

My kids are mostly grown now and thanks to Book Night are voracious readers and literary critics. Their love of reading has bolstered their performance at school, helped their SAT scores, and allowed them to become critical thinkers with interesting things to say.

So if you have kids, read to them. For all of you.

0 Comments

RECENT POSTS

Welcome to the opioid crisis

I spent 30 years with the CIA. My official resume says things like “distinguished record of solutions-driven leadership across multiple mission areas,” and “led program responsible for collection, translation, and analysis of breaking events,”...

read more

Warriors, souls, and the making of AWAKENING MACBETH

My great-uncle Nicky was the second-to-the-youngest of my grandfather’s five brothers. He was missing most of his right index finger. During WWII, while my grandfather turned out copper ship hulls as a foreman at the Revere Copper and Brass rolling mill,...

read more

The Ayotzinapa tragedy 4 years later

My most recent book, 43 MISSING: Detective Emilia Cruz Book 6, was inspired by the events of September 2014 when 43 students from a teacher's college in the town of Ayotzinapa, near Acapulco in Mexico's state of Guerrero, disappeared in the nearby town of...

read more

FYI: Carmenamato.net uses Amazon Affiliate links.

Ready to meet Detective Emilia Cruz?

Get your FREE Starter Library now

This exclusive content only for my newsletter subscribers, includes "The Angler" novella and "Who's Who" character profiles, plus "The Beast" prequel!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This