For about an hour every evening, my husband and I read out loud to one of our children. The Man and I swap them every night, heading to our chosen corners of the house, and we each have our own books that we are reading through. Currently girl child and I are working our way through Terry Pratchett's Discworld series and Boy child and I are on the second book in a Minecraft fan series called The Elementia Chronicles by Sean Fay Wolfe. It will take a month or two to read an entire novel with a child this way.
There are so many reasons to regularly read out loud to your children and the Internet has probably said all the super legit and adult reasons already, so I don't have to.
BUT, I do have a couple of highly personal and self-interested reasons to read out loud wonderful books that children fall in love with and ingrain in their psyche. They may not be the main motivators, but I think they fall under the category of perks.
Such as: Nearly Immobile Children.
Children rarely sit still enough to be able to cuddle them and still sip a glass of wine. I drink red and am a terrible laundress. Not spilling is a big issue for me. Children rendered almost motionless as their fertile imaginations weave the story into stunning pictures in their heads while tucked under my book holding arm leaves another arm and its attached hand free for wine glass lifting. The better the book, the more likely wine will go on the inside of me instead of the outside.
Channeling Their Favorite Characters As A Motivator.
When I ask my daughter to do something, she sometimes does it. When Hermione asks her, she just does it. Hermione has more sway than I because Hermione is always right and look what happened to Harry when he didn't listen to her, right? Being the actual 'voice' of a beloved character gives me the Power to make almost any request seem like it's coming from someone more sensible and lovable than me. I make sure that my book character voices are distinct and consistent, enhancing my ability to instantly invoke their authority outside of story time. Perhaps some may think of this as manipulative, but I prefer to think of it as bringing in reinforcements and avoid having to get all shouty.
(Though, sometimes I do feel a bit smug when girl child is all, 'Why you gotta bring Hermione into this, you know I can't resist?!' and do a little Vincent Price laugh in my head.)
Getting To Read All The Great Children's Books You Would Never Read On Your Own.
I know I missed a lot of great books when I was age appropriate for children's literature because I was so eager to get grown up. Getting permission to take books out of the adult section was a hard won privilege at my local library and once I was allowed to leave the children's room, I never looked back. Until now. Because, man, children's books are the best. Like catching up with Watership Down and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. But that's actually another topic.
What's just as great is reading contemporary children's literature that you may have never of even thought of reading. Like the Bone graphic novels. Reading graphic novels out loud, I admit, presents a particular challenge, but the boy and I actually worked out a pretty good system (though it cuts into my wine drinking somewhat). I would never have the patience to read it on my own, but it turned out to be a great read with all sorts of interesting talking points (like, what is Thorn wearing now?!) I also get to read stuff that may I want to read but couldn't really justify it since I have all sorts of 'adult' reading to do. Like The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley or Adventure Time and Minecraft fan created literature which have given me great insights into the cultural worlds of my kids and happen to be pretty funny and entertaining. In general, I may not read Kate DiCamillo in a coffee shop by myself, but I will happily read her out loud to my kids in that coffee shop (and I'm convinced that at least one or two adults around us being forced to listen in are also happy about it).
What are some of your personal reasons for reading out loud to your kids?