It all started when we decided to take the plunge and get rid of our T.V.
Yes, I know, crazy. But, at the time, I felt so convicted that if I kept it, I might somehow be depriving my children of becoming the next Beethoven! You know, what if instead of being bored and discovering some hidden talent, they were in front of a screen?! Anyway, we have our T.V. back now because it got a little weird when we’d invite the neighbor kids over for a special movie night and we’d bring out the iPad.
I kid you not. You should have seen their little confused faces. Not my finest moment.
All to say, I don’t regret the time we spent not having a T.V., because it was during that time that we developed a love for reading and listening to audio books and adventures. I began to watch as my children used their imaginations to act out the stories they were hearing. I’ve seen their vocabulary grow. I watch as they read aloud with great fervor, using different voices and inflection and accents. And most recently, two of my children have joined theatre and will be auditioning for a part in a musical in a week! They’ve been practicing practically all their lives!
And what a joy it has been reading and listening along with them, introducing myself to great stories I had never been exposed to growing up (Anne of Green Gables anyone? Yea, never had read it!). I am delighting in and learning right along with my kiddos!
Which brings me to today’s post. For those of you who could use some good ideas for getting good stories into your children’s brains, I offer you this:
7 Ways to Get Great Stories into Your Kids
1. Grocery Trips to Road Trips – I’m telling you, this is THE secret
The number one way I get great stories into my kids is listening to audio books and adventures in the car.
We listen everywhere we go! Grocery trips, on the way to their Academy, to my son’s reading tutor, road trips, EVERYWHERE, and we have logged hundreds of hours getting stories into our brains this way. Anne of Green Gables, Wonder, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, To Kill a Mockingbird…the list goes on and on.
Road trip? Who needs movies when there are great audio books and audio adventures to listen to?! We pick stories the whole family can get into!
2. Don’t Hide The Good Stuff
Putting books on display around your house is a sure way to get your kids to pick it up, plop down on the couch, and engage.
Every week or so I change out the books we put on display, books I want my children to pick up and check out. I can’t remember a time they didn’t take the bait!
3. Tea and Treats Leads to Keats (you know, the poet)
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” –Keats (Read the whole poem here.)
Next to keeping audio books and adventures in the car is our reading and tea time.
This is the time of day when we all gather to hear a story, either me reading it or us all listening to an audio book. We head to the living room or the table where they are allowed to do something quiet while they listen. They also get tea and a treat, which is the real trick. I know I can put almost anything in my kids heads if they first have something yummy to eat! Poetry? No problem! Classic literature? Done! I’m telling you, if you want to get great stories into your kids, just feed them something while you’re doing it!
4. The Magic of the Book Basket
Struggle with getting your kids to read more than “candy” books? I’ve been there!
My oldest, avid reader that she is, was always picking books at the library that were of the Geronimo Stilton sort. Fun, but in a candy-appetite sort of way. Sure, she was reading, and I always encourage reading, but Sally pointed out to me that just like our diets, what we feed our minds daily is important in being healthy. If my girl always reads “candy books”, her mind would be engaged, but not necessarily strong. Plus, what we consume frequently we tend to have an appetite for. I want my children to crave good, delightful, meaningful stories. I also want her to learn about history and interesting people and science and so much more through “living books” and the wide world around us. Which brings me to the book basket…
Specifically, it looks like this:
A basket by the bed filled with a biography, a history (can be historical fiction), a science/nature, a classic literature, and a fun book.
Bada bing bada boom!
We go to the library, my kids pick the books based on the book basket rotation (that takes away the struggle), and I know they are going to learn! Simple, easy, THANK YOU SALLY CLARKSON for this idea!
5. Don’t Be Above Paying Your Kids…Or Giving Them an Awesome Experience
Some of you are wondering, “But how do you get your children to read the five books?”
Rewards of course! My children get to pick a special experience if they read a certain number of books (although I haven’t been above paying my kids a few bucks here and there to read something I really want them to read). Last year (and this year) my daughter chose Hershey park with her dad as her reward! My son chose a night out with me in a hotel. Yes, these are expensive items, but they have to read quite a bit to earn the reward, and it’s a once a year thing. They keep track by keeping a poster in their room and they put a sticker on it for each book they read. It has been a great success!
6. Read (or listen) Before They Watch
My oldest two really want to watch The Lord of the Rings. They know that they don’t get to watch until they have read (or listened) to the books. I know, harsh, eh? They are tough books to read (I tried reading the Hobbit to them and gave up because it was so difficult! We got it on audio book instead)! But I have found that it motivates them to read and get into the story before seeing it visually. We now do this with almost every book-to-screen story they want to see.
7. Make Stories Come Alive and Your Children Will Get a Great Education
When we listen to exciting stories that come alive through wonderful acting, music, and sound effects, we are transported into the story where we can almost taste it. We love these kinds of stories.
“Studies show that “listening and learning” with audio actually improves how a child’s brain works. It’s true. With audio learning, the left hemisphere of the brain gets stimulated in a way that no other learning method can stimulate. This is an education breakthrough!
And, once the left hemisphere is activated, research from Carnegie Mellon shows dramatic increases in verbal memory and fluency. Other studies show profound increases in the ability to use imagination. Lastly, researchers also discovered that even the ability to focus gets improved with audio learning.”
Just think of all the delicious stories you can eat up by just putting a little creativity into your day!
Love and happy listening,