The usual two familiar faces turned the doorknob and peeked into the garage wearing “fuzzy jammies” and happy grins as I pulled in after work tonight. They hugged my legs, I kissed their hair, and they ran back upstairs and into bed. It’s routine for us ever since I started teaching evening classes a couple years ago.
While I’m gone, they have routines with their dad as well. He’s a master at fun bedtime games that make them excited to get pajamas on, brush their teeth, and climb into bed. It’s fantastic. But unfortunately, what with the hecticness of a baby, etc, they’ve also fallen into not-so-great routines like watching cartoons before bed. Parents are only human. This stuff happens.
Tonight, as the boys ran back upstairs, Hubby grabbed the camera and flipped it to playback mode, saying to me, “You’ve gotta check this out.”
It was a thirty-second home video featuring the sound of tears with Hubby narrating: “Here on the couch we have a sad five-year-old holding Cat in the Hat. Why are you crying?” And the five-year-old whined: “I want to play my computer!” The camera then moved into the kitchen where it caught sight of the three-year-old holding a board book behind his back. Hubby: “There are tears on his face and he keeps running away because he doesn’t want to read, either. He wants to watch cartoons.” And the three-year-old scowled at the camera and ran off again on cue.
(I wish I could post it here, but we try to avoid showing our kids or using their names on the internet, for their protection.)
Well, I was laughing pretty hard watching all this, but I was also thinking to myself, “Great. He’s forcing them to read and now they’re going to hate it.”
In the second video, the boys had done a 180, both of them on the couch with big grins on their faces, excited to show their books to the camera and talk about what they were reading. “I showed them the first video of themselves, and it totally calmed them down.”
Wow. Sometimes my husband amazes me. Two thirty-second videos and suddenly a reading-time routine is born (which, by the way, was all his idea; I can’t take any credit at all).
It’s not for reading bedtime stories to the kids, which comes after, but for each member of the family to choose a book and read it alone. Hubby showed the camera the biography of Carnegie he’s reading. On the nights I’m not teaching, I’m looking forward to getting through Behemoth. The boys will be able to see that both of their parents love to read, which wasn’t happening before when we waited until we got in bed to crack open our own books.
There’s something to be said for genius husbands, video cameras, and reading time.
What reading traditions have you used in your family? What creative tactics have worked in getting your kids to love reading? What ideas do you have that you want to try?