That's because I've selfishly hoarded that time for myself. It wasn't exactly intentional. I wanted to give him a turn. We even talked about which books he would like to read to them. But every evening when 7:30 rolled around, I found I couldn't let go. There were so many books I wanted to read to my kids, and I treasured that quiet time at the end of the day.
But then with the advent of summer, I realized the time had finally come. I planned on doing a lot of reading with the boys during the day, so I figured I could give the evening time slot to Mike. We even made it one of the summer goals, and I take those very seriously, so I knew I wouldn't snatch it back again.
I knew this would be a good experience for everyone, which is why I was so adamant about it (even while dragging my feet). But it has far exceeded our expectations. Everyone has benefited from it (yes, even me).
So here are those benefits, from the viewpoints of everyone involved:
From the boys' perspective:
- They get to hear books they wouldn't hear otherwise. Mike and I have different tastes, it's true. Awhile back, Mike said, "Why don't you read Redwall?" And I said, "Why don't YOU read Redwall?" So that's the first book they started with. And they've all loved it.
- They have more freedom. Mike is more laid back than I am, and so I've noticed he doesn't really mind if they're wrestling on the floor while he's reading to them. He doesn't even seem to mind if Bradley starts chit-chatting on the side (provided it doesn't go on too long). He just keeps the reading going in a steady flow, and they know that even in the midst of their movements, they better pay attention or they'll miss something.
- Even Bradley loves it. This was something I hadn't expected. In the past when I read to the two older boys, Mike would take Bradley and read picture books to him. With Mike now being the one to read the chapter book, I kind of just assumed that I would read with Bradley, and I was looking forward to that one on one time with him. But in a surprising turn of events, he usually opts to go with Mike and Aaron and Max. I guess he doesn't want to miss out on boy time.
- He loves seeing them get excited. For a long time, I've been telling him how much fun it is to see the boys' reactions to whatever we're reading. Maxwell especially loves to make predictions and gets very animated as he conjures up elaborate climaxes and endings and pins all sorts of motives on various characters. Mike had seen the boys do this when I was reading to them, but it's completely different now that he's immersed in the story himself.
- It gives him something to talk about with them. Even when they're not actually reading, they've found a new common language with each other. I find them talking about the story all the time or relating it to something else that's going on.
- It gives him an excuse to unwind in the cool basement. When Mike gets home from work, he likes to retreat to the basement (especially if he's commuted on his bike). Now he gathers up the boys, grabs the book, and reads for a half hour or so before dinner (an added benefit for me--see below).
- He enjoys the book himself. It's one of the rules you have to follow if you hope to enjoy reading aloud to your kids: only pick things that you yourself will enjoy reading. Mike absolutely loved the entire Redwall series as a kid, and he is enjoying it just as much as an adult.
- It's just good quality time. That's the simple, basic truth. It's why I enjoy reading to my kids, and it's why Mike enjoys reading to them.
From my perspective:
- I don't have to read books I'm not interested in. (See above.)
- I get some time to myself. I hadn't even originally factored this into the equation. I was so worried about missing out on the readaloud time myself that I didn't even think about getting some extra quiet time. I also hadn't realized that Mike would enjoy reading aloud so much that he would take them away any chance he could get.
- It's so heartwarming to see them loving each other's company so much. I'm usually in the midst of the reading aloud. It's a position I love, but there's something equally magical about being the outsider looking in.
How about it, dads? Do you read aloud to your kids? What have been some of your favorite readalouds to date?