Thursday, 4 October 2012

Quiet Family Reading Time (aka Sustained Silent Reading)






Children who are surrounded by reading will learn to read, will love to read and will read for life... and a love for reading can take you all kinds of amazing places!


This is pretty much the premise of one of my favourite books, The Read Aloud Handbook  by Jim Trelease. It is a wonderful book full of all kinds of fascinating stories, studies, research and anecdotes about the benefits of reading aloud to kids (yes, it really is a fascinating read, even if it sounds a little dry, I promise it's not!). Trelease shows the benefits of reading aloud until way past the age kids can read for themselves (like, basically, till they leave home or beg you to stop, haha) as well as heaps of ways to encourage a life-long love of reading in your children. While it may seem like preaching to the converted if you are already a big fan of reading (like me!) and of encouraging reading for your kids (like me!), this book is still so fascinating, engaging and full of practical ideas - it will make you pretty much a full-on obsessive evangelist for the cause, haha!! :) I highly recommend it... just in case you hadn't guessed! ;)

Trelease talks about the importance of Sustained Silent Reading throughout his book. Basically, um... reading for pleasure, in silence! AKA... reading to yourself. But this simple concept is also combined with another vital element. You see, our kids actually (when they are young at least!) think we parents are pretty cool. So, one of the best 'advertisements' for reading is for them to see us reading - just for fun! This made me stop and think - how often do the kids see me reading? Er.... pretty much never! Because I mostly read for pleasure and relaxation - and relaxing whilst the kids run around, climb on my head, request drinks every four minutes and ask where the blue crayon is, is not all that relaxing! Amiright?! (Plus, who has the time to read during the day? Not me!). So, these days pretty much all my reading is done in bed at night before I crash into sleep. No child witnesses that! I realised that as much as I can surround the kids with books and read to them daily, etc, it's not all that convincing if they don't realise that I actually love to read too!

What's the solution to this dilemma? Simply, taking some time to sit down with the kids and all read together... they read their books, I read mine and we all silently participate in a love for books! They get to see me enjoying my reading and we all benefit from the peaceful down time :)




So I was keen to implement SSR into our daily routine, combining the idea with the concept of Quiet Reading Time from Terrific Toddlers/Babywise series. Since I have been somewhat 'back on board' from my hyperemesis, I have slowly started introducing this idea in the last week or so to our routine - usually after lunch and before nap time. It doesn't happen every day as sometimes lunch is late/kids and Mum are tired etc! But most days, it's happening and we love it! The kids select two or three books each of their choosing and sit on the couches in the family room (and let's keep it real - separate couches is key!!) and I bring whatever book I am currently reading (right now it's The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson - so inspiring!). I then set a timer as this helps us all focus for the amount of time set and saves all the questions about 'how long we have left' being asked. We started at 5 minutes (hey, I do have a 2 year old boy!) and I am working up minute by minute each day as the kids (**cough**Eli**cough**) are able to handle the length of time reading quietly and happily. Today we did 8 minutes and my aim is about 15-20 minutes or who knows how long!!

I admit I was a teensy bit skeptical of how this would work, but have been pleasantly surprised - it has been a wonderful time. A Mum of two little kids sitting down to read for pleasure in the middle of the day - are you kidding me?! It feels positively decadent!! Lily loved it straight away and often asks to do it and to keep reading longer (I'm sure this has nothing to do with it taking place right before nap/rest time, ha!). Eli, who I admittedly did not have high expectations of (he is oh so noisy and wriggly at this age) has also done really great - even though I was expecting it to be a slow learning process. The first day, my rule-loving boy basically sat there the whole time stage-whispering repeatedly 'No talking! Quiet reading! Shhhh!' while Lily and I read! So cute. After a few gentle reminders on that day as to what we were doing, not to mention witnessing our example, the very next time we did it, he sat next to me looking at his books really quietly and happily for basically the whole time - with the occasional sideways glance at me just to check in... and just the occasional small wriggle! He now knows exactly what to do and reads calmly. Well done, Buddy Bear xx


'Mummy, we are 'sposed to be reading quietly'(Busted taking photos, oops!)

I love that whilst we are all enjoying our books, we also get to just partake in some peaceful time together, winding down in preparation to rest after the noisy chaos of lunch. I love exchanging the occasional quiet and happy smile with my two sweet babies. It's also a great opportunity for building up skills like learning to sit quietly, self-control and so on which I think is just as important. Afterwards everyone has a chance to talk about what book/s they read and what they like about it.


Books, kids, togetherness, peace... building memories, a love for reading, and self-control. 

Well, with all those things combined, I gotta give a big thumbs-up to Quiet Family Reading Time! 







13 comments:

  1. :-) Way to go Eli! A love of books is growing minute by minute in between all the wriggles.

    When Christopher stopped day sleeps we still have quiet time where he goes to read in his room while everyone else sleeps/rests. Admittedly this was more for my benefit than his, but it has become a pleasurable time for him to read and enjoy his books.

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    1. heehee so true about the wriggles :)

      Yes, lily is transitioning from nap to rest time these days (she probably only falls asleep twice a week or so) and goes to bed at nap time with a huge pile of books!! :) its a great way for them to enjoy them quietly huh- and hey, as long as she is quiet and in her room so I can rest, i dont really mind what she is doing, lol!!!

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  2. Awesome post Kate. You know I'm right there with you on hoping/trying to encourage a love of reading with my two.
    And you know I love that Jim Trelease book! Really I think it was one of the most inspiring non-fiction books I have read.
    I am really digging on this idea. It is true, my kids pretty much never see me read (I am a 'in bed/fall asleep while reading kinda gal' too ;)). They see Lachie read a lot, so I think I need to join him.
    I am in awe of how you implement these kinds of structures to your day with your children. Might have to give it a go myself! (Harper will be like Eli I am guessing :P)
    Great stuff Kate!

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    1. i knew you would be right there w me Amber! :) i agree - SUCH an inspiring book! and YOU have inspired me so much in the zillion practical ways you encourage reading w your kids w projects and library time and an amazing book collection, i have no doubt they will be huge book worms!
      i bet your kids would take to SSR really well - they already love reading and i bet they would get a kick out of seeing mummy read too (i know mine do!). yeah i do find having a *loose* structure/content to our day helps me feel more purposeful and the kids are heaps more content knowing whats coming. LOL yeah i bet harper would be wriggly too but i was shocked at how quickly eli caught on just from seeing what we were doing and now he just follows suit. Avoiding eye contact can be key haha - bury nose in book! ;)

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  3. Beautiful quite time photos. I love the idea of having this quite time so that things aren't always go go go. :-)

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    1. so true talia - our mornings and lunch time are usually so busy, noisy, crazy - its actually a really relaxing time even though its so short - it feels so peaceful and happy, im already loving it and look fwd to it!

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  4. Oh goodness. I hope I can instil the love of reading into my little lamb I will be a happy mumma. Love the little noses buried in the books.

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  5. I love that book and own it, and we also do SSR every day, so I loved seeing this post!

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    1. oh thats wonderful, another Read aloud handbook fan :) thats so cool you guys do SSR too!!!

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  6. I think quiet time for kids to read to themselves is also really important. Amongst other things it promotes independence and having quiet time to read is revitalising for everyone.

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  7. I love this idea! SSR is so wonderful and important - do you think I can get away with reading my own book in the classroom and excuse it as modeling good SSR?! ;)
    I absolutely love reading for pleasure and hope my little boy does one day too. He certainly loves browsing and playing with his board books at the moment (at 10 months old) so hopefully I'm doing something right so far! I hope one day we can have quiet time sitting around together and reading!

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    1. YES you totally can!!! the read aloud handbook totally encourages that - you are advertising the joy of reading to your students too :) sounds like you are definitely on the right track with your sweet son! x

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