When I stopped reading chapter books to my child

I found this gem in my drafts, never published.  Never shared.  Why, I don't know.  I think it's a super lesson I had for myself.  I wrote this about a year ago I think, in Jan '14.

An interesting thing happened yesterday afternoon.  But before I explain the story I have to back track a bit to last year.  Kindergarten with Connor. 

Last year we used Heart of Dakota.  It worked great in that it's all laid out for you each day.  It's so easy to use, which was perfect since we had a newborn.  The only thing I didn't like, going forward with the curriculum, is that it's mostly just American history, each year.  Being that my kids are Canadian I feel like they should learn Canadian things too.  It could easily be supplemented though!

When I first began the program I was skeptical about their idea to read chapter books each day.  Say what!?  Read books with few to no pictures to my 5 year old!?  Are you all mad!?

We got through the first book, and each day I felt it was a struggle.  Lots of anger (on my part).  Lots of frustration (on his part).  Each day I felt it was a struggle to just have him sit still so I could read aloud 2-3 pages.  Sometimes I'd stop and ask questions after a sentence or two, to be sure he was listening.  (he'd often answer correctly)

He was so wiggly and would never sit still.  Sometimes I'd let him play with clay or play-dough to occupy his fingers, so long as he would answer my questions correctly - so long as he was still hearing the story.  But most days I just didn't have the time and patience.  (I had a newborn and was recovering from surgery)

We got through 1.5 books before I gave up and dropped it from our daily routine.

Yesterday I learned an important lesson.

Yesterday, Connor came up to me and asked, "mom?  Why didn't we finish my Reddy Fox books?  You used to read them to me, but we didn't finish. .... Mom?  Can we finish them?"

Then he quickly ran to our book shelf and grabbed one, running back to me.  "Mom?  Can we start over, at the beginning?  With the fox?"

As it turns out.... he was listening.  Sure, he wiggled.  Sure, his hands fiddled.  Sure, his eyes roamed.  He was 5.  He was/is a little boy.   He still heard me.  I was the problem.  I didn't have enough patience.  I didn't have enough understanding.

Just because he wiggled didn't mean he wasn't interested.  In truth, he adored the books.  In truth, I was too blinded by frustrations to see he enjoyed them.

We underestimate our young children.  We can read them chapter books, ::gasp:: with no pictures to occupy them, and they will love the stories.  If we just give them the chance.

Let them wiggle.  Let them play quietly.  They will hear you, so long as you don't give up.

Connor's recollections of the Thornton W. Burgess books:
"Well.... I liked them because....", and he looks away with a wistful smile, and goes quiet.
"I like them because I wanted to role play it.  Because I liked the rescuing. .... But, I didn't like the starving parts."

linking up with



  1. I love this! One of my goals this year is to read 12 chapter books to my children, who are 6,5,3, and newborn. Some times it is frustrating when one of them won't sit still, but I do know they enjoy them because they all rush to cuddle on the couch when I say it's reading time. Thanks for the reminder that kids wiggle! Sometimes I think we just want them to grow up too fast. I'm glad I found this post on the Homeschool Mothers Journal link-up.
    -Miranda at http://rahabtoriches.com/

  2. Yep - I have also stopped read alouds and it is all because of my impatience. I have 4 wiggly boys (8, 5, 2, & 1). I started reading to them while we had snack to cut down on wiggling, but there isn't much I can do about cutting down on yelling. The toddlers are just so loud and I feel like I am screaming the book at them. One of my problems is that I feel like if we can't get through a WHOLE chapter, then it isn't worth it. That's just nonsense, of course. Even if we only make it through one paragraph and the rest of the time is pretending and talking about the story or just making sound effects - it IS worth it. Time to dust of The Indian in the Cupboard I think.


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