Families finding time to read
Meet two busy families trying to find the time to read together - and loving it.
These families both know how tricky it can be to find time to read. Here's how they're doing it - and how it's changed family life.
Chris Bertenshaw lives in Derbyshire with his wife and two sons, who are two and four years old.
Photo of Bertenshaws © Amy Pitfield Photography
Chris is a firm believer in the power of reading and the life-long benefits it brings to individuals. Chris has always known that his passion for books and reading has helped him in many ways - and is passionate that his children reap the same rewards.
As a parent, I want the best opportunities for my children. I want their imaginations to flourish, and I can see that happening every time we read a book together.
The family love reading to their children so much that they are currently planning their very own charity fundraising challenge to begin next January - ‘Let’s Read 1,000 Picture Books in a Year’. Chris has total confidence that they can do it. He works at their local library, and often comes home with armfuls of books the family to read together- so they won’t have trouble finding 1,000 books to read!
Chris also notices how much the stories and the activity of reading brings them all closer. He has happy memories of sharing jokes over Daddy’s Sandwich by Pip Jones and Laura Hughes, months after they read it - in fact, almost every time they were making lunch! They enjoy discussing the characters and Chris loves how much it makes his two little ones laugh and smile, especially as he can share that moment with them.
Chris intends to continue reading to the boys as they get older:
It’s such an important activity we do together. I think it’s something we will continue to do for years to come - I think we will always want to share books!
On their trips to the library together, the parents have watched their children’s tastes develop, and they love seeing which books they will choose for themselves. Chris says it is often difficult to explain to them that there are limits to how many books can be borrowed at once!
Laura Jackson from Manchester is a mother of four, with the oldest now 12.
Laura Jackson, a mother of four from Manchester, says she has wonderful memories of reading stories to each one of her children as newborns curled up in bed together. It has been part of their routine from birth, and she loves to remember these times of closeness.
Laura and her partner have always believed that reading to their children is important - and so, despite the hectic schedule of raising four young children, they try their best to make sure that at the end of a long and busy day, they fit in a bedtime story before the children are off to sleep. The Jacksons regularly read together and the older children enjoy hearing the stories they know so well from their younger years.
In a household of four children with diverse interests, sometimes getting everyone together can be difficult. Laura is passionate that reading together is a rare opportunity to bring the whole family together, physically and emotionally. She has also noticed that:
Storylines in books will often prompt the kids to talk about things happening at school, or to talk about things that are worrying them. The books help the children broach subjects they sometimes find tricky.
Their oldest daughter Faith, now 12, struggled greatly with learning to read right up to year three. Despite the difficulties Faith was encountering, her parents persevered and continued to read to her, as Faith still adored the stories and hated missing out. Laura even read the entire series of Harry Potter to her daughter - and remembers nearly losing her voice as a result!
Their dedication paid off and Faith is now an avid and speedy reader, having read over 2,500 books in just three years. Two more of Laura’s children have struggled with learning to read, but she firmly believes that by continuing to read to them, and inspiring their love of stories, rather than focusing on the mechanics of reading, they can maintain their interest in books.
Laura feels strongly that reading, particularly for children, should be seen as a pleasure rather than an academic box to be ticked - and believes that without continuing to read to her children, they would lose interest and give up.
Reading With Your Child
Sharing a book with a child is fun. It’s a time for closeness, laughing and talking together.
The Reading with your Child booklet for parents can be read here in English and in translation to 26 other languages. Just use the drop-down search options below to find the right version for you...
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