It was the beginning of June, right after dinner on a Friday evening. My husband asked me what we should do for fun that night—something relaxing, maybe, like watch a movie . . . ?
I thought for a moment. The older kids had already run outside to play, and it was so nice and warm out, and the sunshine was beautiful. It seemed a crime to call the kids in to the house to watch a movie. Perhaps we should think of something to do out of doors this summer that would keep us outside more in the evening.
As a result of this musing, we devised a plan. Reading a book together in the evenings, but with rules to keep it special:
Rule #1, All of us had to be there together (no reading without Daddy when he was at orchestra, etc.).
Rule #2, It had to be evening.
Rule #3, We had to read outside.
The first book that we picked out was Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. We had the old copy that my mother-in-law had read to her kids when they were little.
It was a success! Right away the kids started looking forward to reading together outside every evening that we could. They would rush through any evening chores or cleanup that we asked of them. One evening, Captain even jumped right up after finishing his dinner, then went over and filled up the sinks and started doing the dishes himself! Hurrah!
The book was a definite hit. The kids loved Summer of the Monkeys—all of us did. The kids would sit on the swings of our backyard set, or lounge on the blanket I had spread on the grass, and listen, fully enthralled. Captain was the most involved in the story, and we all got a big kick out of his expressions when we would reach a twist in the story line.
Alice in Wonderland was the next book we read. The kids weren’t quite as involved in that one, but it was fun, and it was short. We read this one while waiting for or watching fireworks outdoors more than once.
After that came Treasure Island. This, too, we enjoyed. However, half way through the book it got too chilly to read outside all the time, so we changed the rules with the season. Now we could read indoors, sitting around our fireplace together. We switched off for a week or two, reading sometimes indoors and sometimes out as we straddled the seasons. But we’ve had snow on the ground for three days now and I’m pretty certain now that we’ll stay in.
Last Friday evening we stayed up late finishing the last few chapters of Treasure Island. I can’t wait for our next book. We’ve had so much fun reading while the TV stayed on the rolling cart in the closet.
What are your favorite ways to read as a family?