Seven New Year resolutions for reading to my kids

So now that 31 December has whooshed past, I am belatedly turning my attention to 2016 and the promise and opportunity that the next 52 weeks brings. While I have firmly resolved not to make the usual suspect resolutions around losing weight, exercising more or to find that elusive work/ life balance, there are seven New Year's resolutions I will make. At the very least I hope I can stick with all of them in 2016. But even if I am only successful with one, my life will be so much richer for it.

My seven new year's resolutions all hinge on that special and magical story time with my two children aged five and three.


Resolution # 1: Enjoy it

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, my children's story time becomes just one more chore that needs to be ticked off an ever-expanding "to do" list. So the very first story time resolution for 2016 is to slow down. 

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To remind myself to enjoy these precious moments. To sit with my kids, all of us focused on the pages in front of us. To remind myself to breathe in the smell of their skin and delight in their absorption of the pictures and words. This is a time to enjoy. Yes I can pat myself on the back quietly some other time when I remind myself how I'm building their vocabulary or whatever. But story time is not a chore and I should not make it into one. I need to take the time to savor it and enjoy these moments.



Resolution #2: Let the kids choose the stories

Ok, not all the time. However, my children invest far more in the story if they've felt empowered about which book we'll read together. And yes, sometimes we do wind up reading the same book ten times in a row. But in the big scheme of things, does that really matter?


Resolution #3: Let the kids choose the books

This may sound the same as resolution #2 but takes the idea a step backward - into the bookstore. As a self-confessed control freak, this plumbs whole new depths of anxiety.


"What if they hated the book they chose?"

"What if I hated the book they chose?"


Well yes sometimes I do (and I confess they are not choosing all their own books...) but so far we've had some wonderful choices that have introduced me to new authors I wouldn't otherwise have given a second glance.


Resolution #4: Let the multi-tasking happen

To be honest this is probably more for my son than my daughter. I used to harbor fantasies about the perfect story time. How he would nestle against my chest and listen with rapt attention as I read our newest adventure. But real life hasn't turned out that way. Sometimes he does sit still and snuggle. But more often than not he will be vrooming a car or demonstrating his new somersault-turning prowess. And yet and yet - he can still tell me all about the story afterwards. So I have had to make my peace that his story time happens the way he wants it to, not the way I think it should be.


Note to self: this resolution applies to the children, not you


Resolution # 5: Let here be more than bedtime stories

Admittedly this is likely to prove the most heroic of these resolutions given that I live in a time-poor world. But I have to believe that the compound interest on the time investment will pay off if we can snatch a few minutes during the day to read a story or two.


Resolution #6: Read about other countries and cultures

I am concerned that most of the books I read my children have an Anglo-Saxon backdrop, often star exclusively blonde-haired, blue-eyed children with peaches and cream complexions and have a smattering of rabbits and foxes frolicking across their pages.


In a world where so much divides us, I hope that finding stories of our common humanity will help my children cross their personal bridges as they find them.


Resolution #7: Stretch ourselves

This resolution has two parts:

- To read longer stories or lengthen the time we have for story time.

- But also to sometimes try and read stories that I think are a little too complex or have more complicated vocabulary than I think my children can handle. In the past I've been (usually) pleasantly surprised at how positively my kids respond to ditching the age appropriate markers (within reason). They often surprise me with the things they're thinking that come out of this.


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