Se7en + 1 Tips to Reading Way More Than You Think You Can…

There are so many tricks and programs to encourage kids to read. There are so many ideas to encourage reading, because everyone knows literacy is vital. There are hundreds of lists of books that kids should read before they are ten, fifteen or finished school. But what about the moms? I have always been a reader, but there was a time in the heart of se7en kids under ten, where I literally forgot how to read anything longer than a telephone number. Quite simply, if I sat down for any length of time it was either to nurse a little person or to nap, or both, reading was just not on the agenda. The thing is we live in a culture where there are so many ways to absorb information and quickly, that reading anything longer than a paragraph is no longer essential to getting by. I didn’t say, excelling or getting ahead… just getting by, and when you are a mom of many littles then that has to be enough. But to be honest, I want to feel the heady joy of a trip to the library each week… I also want to dash home to read, not just to cook dinner!!!

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Everyone knows that reading is not just a means to gather information but it is good for us in so many ways… good for our brains, good for our hearts and good for our souls. Almost everyone you ask wishes that they read more, in fact one of the over-riding new year’s resolutions across every genre of blog was to read more books. I am not so much a goal writing person as a getting things done person and I have been working on integrating more reading into my days.

  1. Practise it: Reading is a discipline. You may decide to run 5km every day, you may decide to not drink soda, and you may decide to sleep eight hours a night… all of these things require discipline and are things that folk would work at… though we aren’t very good at working at reading. Once I got out of the habit of reading, I literally had to retrain myself to enjoy it… a chapter at a time was almost too much. So I read by time, five minute slots, surely I could concentrate for five minutes… look up, take a little walk, then five minutes more… and suddenly a chapter a day was flying past again. If you spend ten or fifteen minutes on a chapter or two… then reading six days a week you have covered an hour and a half… and in a month at least six hours… thats a good chunk of time. Little time bites for the win!!!
  2. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. I bought this book because of the cover, I love an adventure, can’t resist a journey, and well hiking boots. This book is about so much more than hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, it is a journey through life, and how low we need to go before we say enough and make some changes. I absolutely loved this book.

  3. Schedule it: Every morning when I wake up I head for the couch and read a chapter… often it leads to another and another. The point is I make sure that my phone is out of reach… there is no checking for mail or reading the news. I find that the end of the day is too late, by the time I get to bed it is too late to read anything, even the easiest read is too difficult then.
  4. Show me a Story, Edited by Leonard Marcus: This is a definite chapter a day book, the book is chapter after chapter of interview with children’s book illustrators, packed with endless behind the scene stories and all together wonderful. All together it would be extremely dry… but an illustrator a day is really quite doable.

  5. Less is More: Some books are harder to read than others. They normally get shuffled to the bottom of the pile because, we tend to put the difficult things off. But just aim for a chapter a day… once your chapter is done for the day, leave it until the next day. Most books aren’t more than twenty chapters long, so within a month you will have finished a book could have sat at the bottom of the pile for months.
  6. The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith: I love The Nester’s blog, and I loved her book… love the house you live in for so many reasons and stop trying to keep up with the Jones’s. Perfect message and something we really need to embrace. I loved her practical, and often amusing approach to life with a bunch of kids and their associated stuff… her writing is real and she is not trying to fit her home or yours into a particular niche… you don’t have to throw everything out, or even organise everything to have a great home. The book tells the story of her homes rather than how to hang your pictures… and she does mention the one thing you do need for a beautiful home: Contentment. Just can’t argue with that.

  7. Read Books not Blogs: I know, I write a blog, and I love that folk read it… but to be honest, if you want to read more books then you have to read actual books. Even skinny little books… you have to read books. Blog posts are a couple of hundred words long and don’t have the concentrated pull on your attention, that is required to read an actual book. It turns out I am not too fussy about how I read books. I am a classic “love the paper book” kind of person, and I love to linger a little longer over fine words. But there are some books that I want to read really fast… books written by folk, whose blogs I follow, for instance… then I am happy to buy the Kindle version. I literally fly through kindle books and don’t find it necessary to read every word on a page at all. I would rather say to a blogging friend, the week their book launches, that I read their book and I liked that and this about it, than the hard cover sat on my shelf for more than a year before I even opened it. Otherwise, the father person and I like to listen to a book, gasp audible books are books too, just for fifteen or twenty minutes, before the end of the day… Shared time together, we both want to know what happens next, something to ponder about together that isn’t kids (!)… not something terribly intellectual… because: end of the day and all that. So we will pick something from the BestSeller List or a book we keep hearing about.
  8. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: We listened our way through this book, little bit by little bit. A murder, some madness… a girl prying into others lives and recreating a world in which she becomes inextricably entwined… the line between reality and fantasy is way beyond blurred and we literally didn’t figure out the truth until the very last paragraph.

  9. Make the Right Choices: Choose books that you want to read, not books that you should read. If you choose books by the cover or because they are set in your dream destination…. then so be it. This is reading for pleasure and not degree purposes. I have a long mental list of books that I should read… so many classics that I never read at school. Books that perhaps I should have read and you can find fabulous lists, actually list after list, in Susan Wise Bauer’s Well Educated Mind. I read this book and loved her lists, but completely choked on the very first book. For two years I tried and failed to read Don Quixote… the very first book on the very first list… just saying, “That’s crazy!!!” So I went back to her list of classics and I made an amended list… of classics that I actually wanted to read. If at the end of the year I have read four classics, well that is four classics more than the year before. It’s not a race, it’s not something I have to prove… just something I am doing because I really wanted to do.
  10. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens: I confess, I have never read it before, but I am into it and slow and steady conquers the classic. I am really enjoying his use of words and long descriptive paragraphs… but just a little snippet each day is really quite enough. I love the totally and utterly believable coincidences. And the endless cliff hangers, every single chapter ends with you right on the edge and dying to begin the next one.

  11. Mix It Up: Different books in different places… I read different books at different times of the day. First book of the day is usually something a little trickier, an epic of sorts; and my after lunch read, while the kids are swimming is usually a quick read that doesn’t require all my attention. Something I am trying to learn, or understand I will try and read before I start working for the day. And books that I should have read as a child, but didn’t… well I have no problem reading those out loud to our gang. I try and read something classical, something quick, something biographical, something to do – crafty or cooking… often a journey or a challenge. And then… I have a steady supply of unfinished books. Books I may have dashed through to review, but actually wanted to read thoroughly and just didn’t have time to read. It really helps to have a range of books available to read and strew them where you are going to read them. It is no good having a beautiful pile of books next to your bed, if you always read on the couch. I have books stashed away everywhere… bag, coffee table, car, couch, next to where I do school (so that if a child keeps me waiting forever, I actually have something to do).
  12. StowAway by Karen Hesse: Another book I chose on account of the cover… this is a school book and one IU have been dying to read for years. My kids have totally outraced me in the Sonlight Curriculum books on our shelves and I would dearly like to read them all, so whenever I have a gap in my reading pile, I grab a schoolbook and read away. Brilliant, honestly… just because it is a book written for children doesn’t mean it won’t be great. If it is gripping for my kids, then it is gripping for me. Stowaway is written as a diary and I always love reading those. It is the story of Nicholas Young, a stowaway on Captain Cook’s voyage of discovery on board the Endeavour. Fast gripping fun.

  13. Talk About it: I tend to ask my kids about the books they are reading at meal times: what are they reading, what do they enjoy about it and such like. I used to be all ears, but in an effort to become someone other than the chief cook and bottle washer, I started sharing what I am reading too… somehow verbalising about what I am reading settles the book in my head and it is true what they say about a journey shared. Very often I find myself encouraged when they ask what is going to happen next… read on, read on, read on.

    How to Teach Children Shakespeare, by Ken Ludwig: I wanted to read this book for the longest time, I kept seeing it on blogs and hearing about it own podcasts and it totally lived up to expectations. As a family we have enjoyed a lot of Shakespeare, all in the name of school… this book brings Shakespeare to life like no other book I have read. Heaps of tips for memorising in general… but it is the love of words and the Shakespearian play that is really what this book is all about… I loved the background, and the conversational approach. This is a great read for any Shakespeare lover, and it pops straight onto my “must read if you homeschool” list.

  14. Have a Running Wish List: And here I am going to say, listen out for recommendations… if someone mentions a book they are loving then write it down. Check out bloggers that post their latest and greatest reads… Wander through a book shop from time to time, look at their book club recommendations, scan the latest and greatest shelves, I always take dozens of screen shots with my phone. You might have noticed that I have no problem in judging a book by its cover. Hop on the mailing list of a local publisher and check out the latest good reads. Look in the “returns pile” at the library… Honestly, having books that I am looking forward to reading motivates me to finish the book I am on.

All the books I have mentioned in this post I either own or borrowed from the library, I carefully chose books that I have read this year and yet were specifically not review books. Books that I review for our blog I do consider to be work… and set aside a chunk of reading time in the early afternoon, when the whole family reads their own books for half an hour to an hour every day, and I tend to be alert. That quiet time/reading time is critical to my job as a blogger and I wouldn’t be able to review books without it.

13 Replies to “Se7en + 1 Tips to Reading Way More Than You Think You Can…”

  1. Ah, my friend, I was just thinking about you tonight… and that arm… I will whatsapp you, but this is one of my favourite subjects.

    Did you see yesterday’s post on the OQ blog?

    Anyway, the biggest thing for me is to be very intentional and to read while you’re actually awake (sounds crazy but I just said to my 3 … you can all wait til 6:30 for me to start supper because I need 30 minutes to just read….).

    That and leaving the phone far away from you.

    Now granted, if on a Sunday afternoon, the light is particularly beautiful on my glass of water and my book, I will snap a quick pic but then the phone goes back to the bedroom and I retreat for a good few hours to enjoy my book.

    Happy reading.

    I have a few emails to take care of, but then I intend to finish a book. My ipad tells me I’m 40 mins away from finishing 🙂


  2. Hahaha Marcia, Read while you are awake. Exactly that. And sitting UP on the couch and once a week at gym with a coffee, a mother’s sweet reward. Intentional reading, I am all for it… If I want to read so badly the I have to just find the time and read it!!! I will talk about the arm in about eight weeks and will continue to type blog posts with one hand… stubborn much (!), and my kids are getting more domestic training than they ever, ever wanted!!!

  3. Super post Se7en. Definitely agree with you on intentional reading (well, all of the post, but that bit jumped out at me especially). Just 8 years ago I struggled to read 5 books in an entire year, but then I turned a switch on and made a choice I knew I had been wanting to make, but didn’t know if I “could” manage. Here I am now, probably described by those who know me as somewhat obsessed with reading… And life is infinitely richer for it.

  4. Oh gosh, you know fiction reading is my poison of choice. I finished “I am Pilgrim” last night and honestly another 800 pages would have had me just as mesmerized. Honestly being in a bookclub is a huge benefit – just hearing the girl’s opinions of books and having them handy, not needing to buy them is great. I also find the Facebokk groups like “Read any good books lately?” a huge help on choosing books as well as Goodreads. I have been keeping a book journal for years. And you are always welcome to check my blog – I do book reviews every month or so.

  5. I love your suggestions! I love to read, always have – but sadly, neither of my boys seem to enjoy it at this point. We will keep plugging away; there’s still hope for the future!

    And oh, my wish list! It grows everyday, right alongside my massive list of the books I’ve read.

  6. The read what you like/want not what you think you should read is so important. Reading has never been a struggle for me, it’s one of my loves it makes me me.

    I did pick up a trick from Marica though, read in those 5 minutes you have spare too. I would check e-mail or twitter, but now I read or voicenote friends. Also the kindle app and book bub has enrihed my reading life a lot.

    Yay for books 🙂

  7. Great comment Zoe, I know “somewhat obsessed” is a good way to put it… I’ve been getting back on track for a couple of years… but the last year or so I have been truly intentional and I suddenly realized that I was getting through books just as fast as the kids do and needing to get to the library every week too. They of course have more free time than they will ever believe for reading. Hope you have a great weekend, I am working on your 100 book project, fun times!!!

  8. Hay Christi, My first couple of kids were such avid readers that I thought everyone was like that, then my middle boys arrived and they took forever to get the reading bug… forever. Have you listened to the Read A Loud Revival, episode 1, it inspired me no-end with my lads. Hope you have the best weekend!!!

  9. Hay Cassey, that is a great tip… I have found that having a book with me wherever I am, and actually just reading it instead of staring into space (!!!) can make the world of difference!!! Hope you you have the best weekend!!!

  10. I used to be an avid reader and then grew up and life got too busy, I work quite long hours. Plus I started exercising more so I find myself doing that most of my free times in the morning. So to get some reading done I read on my train commute to work- just 10 mins each way but better than nothing. And a great tip from here (all lovely tips) read what you love! I find I don’t necessarily like the same things my friends like reading so I choose my own reading list. Currently I’m in a non fiction biography type books stage and I’m loving it

  11. Great post, thank you, se7en! I’ve been meaning to ask you about what you are reading for yourself – not only for review purposes. I love your reviews anyway, as everything in this blog, but I always thought that as you are such an independent personality, you surely MUST read something interesting beyond “for kids and about kids”.

    I also like your tips about reading more: it took me ages to understand such things as using every small chunk of time or reading what you like and want, because life is too short. Cannot agree more on “Different books in different places,” although many people say that it is much more efficient to dive into one book at a time without distractions, but for me different places and circumstances provide different opportunuties for reading, so I always read 5-6 books simultaneously, and never looked back… I wish I had such tips several years ago!

  12. Hay Renee, thanks for the lovely comment… yes I do read a lot more than “for kids and about kids,” in fact I don’t read a lot about kids at all… though I love reading books for kids!!! Hope you have a great week, happy reading!!!

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