Our house at meal time is probably like most typical households with small kids – we cook up delightful meals that my husband and I think are tasty and overall pretty nutritious. And then we spend most of our meal negotiating with our kids to eat it. Or if we aren’t in the mood – we make two meals – one for our kids and one for us (I know that’s horrible and we do this rarely, but still it happens). Sigh.
After reading on Money Saving Mom’s blog (I adore her!) that she often reads to her kids during meal times – I fell in love with the idea. I thought it sounded like the perfect way to get more reading time in with the kids, so we started the routine of reading during the meals the first part of the year.
Fast forward two weeks and I love it. I picked up some kid’s chapter books at Goodwill for under $1 each. You can also checkout books from the library (just be careful they stay clean of food). During dinner time my husband and I take turns reading to the kids – so we’re both able to take turns eating. For breakfast or lunch, I’ll usually eat my meal first and then read.
I’ve found the kids are so engaged in the book and the story that they eat their meals with much less resistance! This was a surprising perk – one I did not expect! Reading has become a joyful meal-time distraction and because they so badly want to hear the story, they are not arguing about what they should eat or how many more bites they need to take. I had a sinking suspicion that our food battles were not actually over the flavor of the food, but merely an opportunity to create a little dinner time drama and have a minor power struggle. The reading has nearly eliminated this all together!
In addition to fewer food protests from the kids - I love the dialogue and discussions we’re having over the dinner table. For example, Peter Pan used the word unusual – what does that word mean? Or what do you think will happen next? Or we will stop and talk about what we just read as a family – so a little reading comprehension lesson. I don’t homeschool, so I’m no expert on that – but I’m excited about building a learning opportunity into our meal times. And showing my kids that reading is important!
It’s been a welcome addition to our routine. We are already halfway through Peter Pan, reading one or two chapters per meal time. I have a couple other chapter books (with pictures) waiting in the queue and I hope the routine of reading during meal times continues to be such a positive experience for our family.
I’d love to hear from you - Do you read during meal times? Do you have favorite chapter books you’d like to recommend (our kids are 5 and 2). Have you started any new routines this year that are working for you?
Amazon has what’s called Dover Thrift Editions – they are popular books for only $1 – $3 a book!
Disclosure - Reading during meal times has worked great for our family but I realize it may not be for everyone. Since our kids are only 5 and 2, and home with me most all day – the “how was your day” conversation that you might have with a school-age kid doesn’t get us too far into dinner. I don’t pretend to be a parenting expert, just sharing a little bit of our life with you. It’s been a great way for us to bond, learn and read as a family!