Still loving storytime with my 10-year-old boy
Published on: 16 October 2016 Author: Rachel McIntyre
Rachel McIntyre didn't think she'd still read books with her son once he started school - but now she wants those moments to keep on coming. Here's why...
Bath. Book. Bed. For my family (and I'm sure I'm not alone here) that's been our night-time routine ever since my son was born. When he was tiny, I'd read him stories. As he got bigger, we read picture books together. But I suppose I always assumed that once he went to school, that would tail off and he'd be happy to read alone.
Well, he had his tenth birthday last week and when I've finished writing this, I'll be heading upstairs to listen to him read Midnight for Charlie Bone until he falls asleep. It turned out that once he started school, we'd both got so used to shared reading time that neither of us wanted to stop.
'Just the two of us'
Even though he's perfectly capable of following a story by himself, sharing a book means we get to spend some special time together without any distractions. No work, no TV, no chores - just the two of us.
Plus, he's such an active kid - always bouncing on the trampoline or playing cricket or football - that having the opportunity to calm down and unwind helps him to relax into sleep. Bonus!
We mix it up a bit: sometimes he picks a book and sometimes I choose one, usually one that's a bit more challenging that we can talk about together. And it's the perfect excuse to re-read stories I loved as a child, like Marianne Dreams and Charlotte's Web; ones he would usually ignore in the library because he thinks they look 'girly'.
We read non-fiction too. If he's doing a particular topic at school like the Romans, we'll get information books from the library. And when we go on holiday, we get a book about the country we're visiting (the Lonely Planet 'Not-for-Parents' series is brilliant).
Happy memories to treasure
Studies have proven over and over again that strong readers improve their academic performance not only in English but across the board. Of course, I can't know whether reading with my son has helped him at school but the fact that he's doing very well suggests it has had a positive impact. It's certainly encouraged him to read independently, and I'm going to try my best to keep that going through his teenage years.
Of course, it's not always easy to fit it in. There are days when my inbox is overflowing; the house is a disaster zone; and my brain is so fried that all I want to do is collapse on the sofa and watch trashy TV.
Then there are the days when he's driven me up the wall. But when I think about how quickly the last ten years have gone (how can he be ten already?!), I realise these are precious days. And I've also found having a cuddle and a read is the perfect way to make up after a tricky few hours.
Mainly though, I want to create happy memories for him to treasure when he's an adult. And if that means giving up on trashy TV, well, I'm prepared to make that sacrifice!
Author Rachel McIntyre is published by Egmont UK.