Quiet Reading Time

With being sick, and then Patrick unexpectedly needing to work several days this week, I’ve needed quiet time to be quiet more than ever. Some days it has been, and then there are the days when I lock Gilbert out because he’s threatening to throw a fit that will wake Porter and Harlan up.

We’re still plugging away at the reading logs (despite the fact that Gilbert lost his) for summer reading at the library. The boys are really hoping to get the coupon books that will entitle them to free snacks all over town. We’ve said they will need to fill their reading logs in order to use the books. I read an article in the Times recently about reading, especially in the age of screens. It’s also about bribing kids to read, and the problems with that–notably that bribery suggests there’s something more fun to be doing.

Our quiet reading time program has been to erase the other possibilities so that there’s really nothing else better to be doing. But the thing is, it’s not working. Gilbert and Seamus fight us on quiet reading. Seamus gives up faster, but Gilbert makes it just terrible some days. It’s almost more work to get five minutes of quiet than it’s worth. Almost.

However, the article suggests that the truest incentive with reading is the time together. So today, after a few time outs and tears, I had Gilbert sit with me and read Go Dog, Go! which he did very well. I guess there’s still more work for me to do on this front. Seamus does seem to enjoy reading quietly, but only if Gilbert is also being quiet and reading. Mostly, I just find this really difficult to understand, because given the opportunity (as a child and as an adult) I would gladly sit and read for hours.

I think I missed out with Porter on reading, and I realize we have a lot of books I was reading to Seamus and Gilbert at this age that I haven’t gotten out for Porter. Part of it’s time, but also a vicious circle. He doesn’t talk much, so I don’t read much, but then he wants to read. He loves to bring us books, even when they’re board books we’ve read a hundred times. I used to think Porter had the best shot, people to try to keep up with, a lot of individual attention, etc, but now I see that Harlan gets to read more than Porter did. We sit and read to both of them (and that’s what I did with Gilbert, while Seamus got a lot of reading as the first). I’m not convinced that it makes a huge difference though, for all that. Porter loves books. He’ll sit and look at them unprompted.

I guess my takeaway is that with all the competition for time and play, reading is hard. And then I remember that they’re still young. I could read in first grade, but I wasn’t staying up with a flashlight and pretending to be sick from school until third grade. We still have time.



  1. My boys were all reluctant readers at first but enjoy reading now. Different things worked with each kid. With Cole, it was finding the right book; he discovered Percy Jackson, read every book by that author, and hasn’t looked back. With Eli, I had to read some chapter books with him before he was interested in reading on his own. Rylan’s problem has been wanting to read bigger books than his attention span is ready for. He’ll start a book, lose interest, and never finish it. I’ve been encouraging him to pick some shorter length books, and that has helped. Also, graphic novels have been GREAT for all of my boys as a gateway drug.

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