father and son reading
Book Clubbing for the Overwhelmed and Out of Steam

by Carol Baker

Most parents are overbooked, overworked and overwhelmed with the daily needs of raising their families. With taking care of the children, working, attending sporting events, music lessons and recitals — there is just no time left in the day for reading with their children. They know that their child’s future depends on getting the best education available. They know being a fluent reader is critical. They just can’t do one more thing.

When parents come to me with this problem, I offer this strategy — you don’t need more hours, you just need to use them differently. I encourage them to:

  • Appreciate the power of parental influence
    Children will do whatever it takes to get their parents’ attention. They will work hard to make their parents proud when their parents attend their sporting events, music recitals, dance recitals and art shows. The more attention given to the event or skill, the more effort the child is willing to give.
  • Examine parental roles
    In many families it is the mother who takes on the role of coordinating school activities, homework, and daily reading. Typically a father’s domain extends to sports, scouting, and building school projects. When it comes to Book Clubbing, there is opportunity for both parents to take prominent roles: cuddling up to read together, tallying books at read2dream, setting goals at the Reward Zone and spending time talking about the stories they have read.
  • Make a plan for success
    Parents need to have a serious conversation about ways to schedule more reading time in the home — and to become role models for their children when it comes to reading.

Tip: I know from many years of experience that when dads get involved sparks can fly in a positive direction. Dads can be game changers when it comes to creating a culture of reading in the home.

Interested in knowing how this played out for a real family?

I hope you find this family’s story inspiring.

With a family of five, Mom worried about being able to meet all the needs of her growing children. It was difficult to fit in the daily reading Mom knew was necessary for her three young boys to be successful in school. Dad was involved with his sons, but traveled from Sunday till Thursday. When he arrived home on Thursday nights, he was tired and felt guilty about being away much of the time. The boys vied for Dad’s attention and their behavior worried both parents.

The parents worked out a great plan to meet the boys’ needs. When Dad came home he would talk and play with his children, while Mom got food on the table. After dinner, Dad would have a session with one of the boys on each of the three days he was home. So, after dinner two of the boys played together while dad worked with the other son. He read with him. Then they discussed all the books read during the week and entered them into the Read2Dream Book Club account. They visited the 50 and 100 book rewards they had targeted at the Reward Zone. This gave lots of time and attention to the child while meeting his educational needs. It was clear that Dad valued the child’s educational accomplishments and the time they spent together.

Things were going well. The book discussions carried over into dinner time and car travel time. Dad brought home books that he knew his boys would like. The shocker was that even Dad found time to read for his enjoyment. Before, Dad had only read work material while traveling. Mom had always loved to read, but she hadn’t been able to find the time. Now they both got into reading —and the boys were thrilled to see them reading, too. They had decided to get Read2Dream tee shirts for the boys to wear to school on Book Club days — the boys wore them for the family’s Christmas photo.

Spring brought new challenges to the reading routine. Sports practices and games made it more difficult to keep to the reading schedule. But now there was a reading culture at home. After a few adjustments they worked it out. The boys and their Mom took their books instead of screens, cell phones and devices in the car. They took turns reading aloud. They took books to doctor and dental appointments and Mom would quietly read aloud to all of them. Their Read2Dream book total was climbing faster as their skills grew.

The parents’ reading strategies turned the whole family into avid readers. They gave a clear message to their children — we value education. And, the message was received.