“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” – Rudine Sims Bishop
Reading is SO GOOD for the soul. In October 2017, after watching a very inspiring master class about reading journals, I decided that I wanted to start a reading journal for myself and the kids so that we can have a record of all the books we’ve read individually and together, as well as a place to record thoughts about the book, our favorite quotes or passages, and things of the sort. We are now 5 months strong and in that span I’ve read a total of 55 books! My oldest daughter is ahead of me at 60 books. We have this little competition going on that she is clearly going to win because she has WAY MORE freedom to pursue reading and she is as much of a voracious reader as I am.
Each month since November, I’ve been posting on Facebook and Instagram the stack of book that I have read for the previous month. Reading an average of 10 books per month begs the question, “How do you find the time to read all of those books?!” In order to try to answer that question, I’ve compiled several of the ways that I have been able to get some good reading time in, while also juggling work, homeschool and family life.
How do I make time to read:
- Five minutes here, 10 minutes there: MSN ran an article calculating how much time we spend on certain activities during our lifetime and it stated that on average, we spend about 45 minutes – 1 hour per day just waiting. Waiting for transportation, waiting in traffic, waiting in lines, waiting for water to boil for pasta, waiting for our kids to put their shoes on (or to find their shoes)…etc. I find that most of my reading gets done in 5 – 10 minute spurts throughout the day. Whenever I leave the house, I ALWAYS bring a book with me, even when I know I probably won’t be able to crack it open. You never know when those 5 minute surprise moments pop up, and when they do, I’m prepared.
- Intentionally carve out the time: I intentionally carve out about 20-30 minutes each afternoon to read. This is usually after I put my daughter down for her nap and I set my son up for his own quiet reading or play time. The whole house is silent and this is the perfect time when me and my big kids sit on the couch and read our own books. We homeschool, so my kids are expected to read 30 minutes per day anyways. And reading time is always better when mom joins them 🙂 Further, it is very important to me for them to see reading for pleasure modeled, especially when there are so many other things vying for their attention. I also read aloud to my kids everyday for about 10-15 minutes (mostly middle grade novels). I add the books that we read aloud together to my monthly book stack (excluding the picture and board books that we read because we read hundreds of those hundreds of times). We are averaging about 1.5 books per month. Finally, as part of my self care routine each night, I take a relaxing bath with a book in hand before bed. ***if you are unable to carve out some time during the day to read, try maybe waking up 10-20 minutes earlier.
- I read lots and lots of fiction (middle-grade novels the most): I don’t know if this is true for you, but it takes me A LOT longer to read non-fiction. If I’m reading a parenting book, spiritual book, motivational book, or a biography, I tend to read slower and only a few pages at a time in order to take it all in and maybe wrestle with some of the ideas written or talk to someone about it. My absolute favorite genre of books right now are middle-grade fiction. These are books recommended for ages 8-12 and they read very easily, which is why I am able to devour them so quickly. Listen, there are SOOOO many books available in this genre that are very rich and satisfying and some of the best books that I have ever read in my 30 years of life. C.S. Lewis says, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I could not have said this better myself.
- I have a few different books going at a time: I almost always have 1 fiction, 1 biography and 1 non-fiction book going at one time. Depending on my mood and energy levels, I just pick up whatever is appealing in that moment. I suggest to only have 1 fiction story going at a time because if you have more than that, you start getting mixed up with the plot and characters (or this may be just me).
- I listen to Audiobooks: Audiobooks are an AMAZING way to get more reading in and is definitely more convenient to people who are on the go a lot and don’t really have the time to sit down with a book in hand. I just want to say that listening to audiobooks are totally not a cop-out and counts exactly the same as sitting down with a book. The ONLY difference is that you are reading with your ears rather than with your eyes. I will probably always be a person who prefers a book in hand rather than listening through ear buds, but I have come to really appreciate and love listening to audiobooks. I can write a whole post on just audiobooks and their benefits. We listen to audiobooks in the car, I listen to audiobooks in the mornings when I’m working or washing dishes or as I’m watching my kids play in the park. Audiobooks are so very beneficial to kids as well, especially if you don’t have much time to sit down and read to your kids yourself. This is a great way to get the grammatically correct and sophisticated language patterns in their ears. The most surprising thing for me as I’ve started to listen to audiobooks more and more is noticing just how much I have been mispronouncing words all of my life, hahaha. I’ve been reading those words all of my life, but when you don’t hear them read out loud and properly pronounced, you kind of just do your best to say it the way you think. Ah! I LOVE AUDIOBOOKS!
- Trade-offs/Putting down my phone more: We are all given the same amount of time each day and we all have the freedom to make decisions on how we want to spend our time. Yes, I read a lot, but in order to do that, I’m giving up something else. Life is about trade-offs. Because I want to read more, I don’t watch TV very much and I give myself 5 minute time limits when I am on social media. I have all the alerts turned off on my phone except calls and texts so that my phone is not a constant distraction. Is it hard to stay disciplined in this area? Heck yes! But I’ve definitely noticed how, over time, the more I pick up a book rather than my phone when I have a few minutes of down time, the more easier it is and how it is now becoming a habit.
So there you have it. I hope this post was helpful for those who really want to squeeze in more time to read for pleasure. I would love to see your book stacks too. Even if it is only 1. If you have any tips or suggestions on how you squeeze reading into your busy life, I would love to hear about it! Happy Reading Friends!