Rhythm-ey Rhyme: It’s Reading Time!

by Heather Burton

[Note from Rachel: This stream-of-consciousness brilliance from my dear friend Heather was too good to pass up.  With her permission, I’ve adapted a simple email message to her friends for us to enjoy.]

AA006003I’m up late working, and I’m tempted by the fact that I’m still signed in to my Yahoo account where I get all my TJEDinAlberta mail, so I’m giving in.

I’d like to tell a story about bringing books and children together:

Several times over the 15-20 years of our homeschooling life (I never know if I should calculate how long we’ve been doing this from the time our oldest was a wee one, or from the time he would have gone to school) I have gotten dysfunctional about reading time with our children. 🙂

I say it that way because I know, and have been reminded many, many times by personal experience, that reading with, to and alongside our children is probably the best tool in our education basket…yet, I still move away from it.

It could have been having a new baby and just being worn to a frazzle. It could have been summertime and we were being barefoot and schedule-less for days or weeks on end, it could have been the times when Dad was a way a lot and wearing all the hats left me exhausted and desperate for quiet solitude, so I’d send everyone to bed and curl up with a book (or a pillow) myself.

The most recent bout of “out of the reading habit” has come because I am working, wearing a new hat to pile on the others I already wear, and we just don’t seem to follow through from one day to the next with regular reading time.

Some days, we read chapter upon chapter, and then it’s a week later and we’re looking for Roald Dahl’s The BFG, or I still haven’t started going through the wonderful beginning chapters of Les Miserables like I had happily suggested to a child two weeks ago who is determined to read the unabridged version, and is struggling with the French.

An additional factor has seemed to be that of our Core and Love of Learning children, there are just two who can’t read independently, and they play together well. Exposing our kids to great works of thought, history, creativity, and so forth is something they can do for themselves, isn’t it?!

Well, they can…but this is what happens when we resume a reading-together habit, especially when the books are rich and captivating and delicious, like so many classics are. (Remember: “worth returning to again and again.”)

We get our family groove back. We all draw back in toward the circle where we feel like we’re on the same team, going for a bigger picture, here for one and one for all.

I just don’t know how to say it differently and still capture the naturalness of it, the inherent rhythm-y rhyme of a family reading together. It might have to do with proximity.

We are actually in each other’s company, sometimes squished right up next to each other, without any agenda except communing with a book and with each other.

It might have something to do with us putting away the petty grievances we have toward family members in favour of a good story, a good laugh, a good turn of phrase…or all of these.

It might be that our memory loves reading time.

It’s one of the consistent “together” things we have done as parents and children.

We have cuddled up next to each other to read since our beginning, even with the babies.

Maybe revisiting that setting by allowing a book to draw us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually closer to each other calls up in our minds all the other happy times we’ve had during family reading.

We could maybe say that the current occasion of reading together holds within it some of the lingering fragrance of other stories and other discussions, and we want to savour that smell again.

Ahhh. (And somehow, that fragrance dispels the “off smell” of the times when family reading hasn’t gone so well. Roses and thorns…you get the picture…:)

Bringing children and parents and books together works.

And, in some way or ways, it also works magic. For our family, it does.

Now, to remember that when it might seem easier to send each and all to their private places to read and mellow out!

Perhaps the better thing for us to do in tense times is to let a book, a read out loud book, draw us back together.

🙂 Thanks for reading,


Also on this topic: “The Key of Keys in Leadership Education

About the Author:

Rachel is the co-author of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning and the audio series Core and Love of Learning: A Recipe for Success, and the author of the award-winning educational resource, This Week in History. She is an accomplished musician, writer, literary editor, public speaker, consultant and momschool organizer.


  1. Heather Burton June 3, 2011 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Rachel, thank you for sharing this around! Funny how “journal entries” like this one can become even more meaningful to the writer when re-read later on….

    Addendum to the “article:” I resigned from my work, in part because of the price of missing precious times like family reading time. Everyday occasions of warming ourselves around a good book are priceless.

  2. Rachel DeMille June 3, 2011 at 9:10 am - Reply

    You leave us hoping that your time will allow you to share more such treasures…

    oxoxo rd

  3. Stephanie August 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    I love this Heather! Thanks for the inspiration (per usual)! xoxo

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