Two or more months ago, the kids and I began reading The Hobbit together. It seemed like the right time to do it - the kids were arguably old enough, and I was looking to read something to them that was a little different than the usual...something a little more classic. I had all manner of neat things planned, and we kicked of our reading with homemade seed cakes and jugs of coffee - in honour of Bilbo Baggins and the comfortable lifestyle that he espoused before his great journey began.
We had a great start! But then life began to get busy and we got into Romeo & Juliet preparations, and then the week of the play, and then the past three weeks have been consumed by life with a puppy.
The long and the short of it is that I've hardly been reading out loud to my kids for the past about-two months. For a mom who loves to read many hours to her kids every week, it's been a strange thing to have this large element of our daily lives absent.
But I decided last week that enough is enough. It's time to resume more of our former patterns, particularly as it concerns reading. So late last week, we began with The Hobbit again. We decided to start over from the beginning, even knowing that it would take us a few/several extra days to get to the point where we'd left off. In fact, I was pretty impressed by how much the kids remembered from the story - I guess making the plot come alive with visual and tactile reminders really works! Even Seth remembered way more of the story than I would have given him credit for.
But start again we did and we're now just past the point where we were before. Because it's taken two of the kids a bit of effort to get back into our reading-out-loud pattern, I've made it a practice, these last several days, of incorporating reading time into either breakfast time or afternoon snack time. We sit around the kitchen table and the kids eat while I read. It works beautifully. Today I prepared something I knew they would particularly love - a chocolate fondue! We cut up tons of fruit, and melted chocolate and whipping cream together and we feasted...well, mostly the kids feasted! They ate an entire pineapple, almost an entire extra-large container of strawberries, two small containers of blackberries and raspberries, a handful each of small vanilla wafer cookies, and a bunch of tiny marshmallows. It was like they were sucking the stuff back!
Reading out loud has been of pretty critical importance in our non-curriculumy way of life these last couple of years, and I don't want to lose that. I really believe that my reading out loud will cultivate the kids' imaginations, foster good reading habits, and encourage a love of good literature.
Already I can hardly wait for tomorrow's chapter tomorrow morning over breakfast. We left Bilbo at a crisis point - however will he escape the goblins that he and Gandalf and the dwarves are fleeing from, especially now that he's fallen off of a dwarf's back and hit his head on a stone? It's a nail-biter, to be sure.