Have a fussy two-year-old who won’t listen to you? Read her a book.
Have a five-year-old following you around with the “I’m bored” complaint? Read him a book.
Need to calm a child after a terrible temper tantrum? Read her a book.
Overwhelmed from a day of putting out fires between siblings? Read them a book.
Have a teenager with a broken heart? Read her a book. (Yes, even teenagers should be read to.)
Need an escape from a day full of work? Read yourself a book.
Feeling lost in the world of motherhood and not really sure what you enjoy doing anymore? Read a book.
Struggling to make decisions with your spouse about big life issues? Read a book together.
I know that reading is a very polarized hobby – you either love it or you hate it. If you hate it, I beg you to set your personal feelings aside for a few minutes and hear me out.
Reading reduces stress.
Research shows that “reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. It works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea.” (Lewis, D. (2009), Galaxy Stress Research. Mindlab International, Sussex University, UK.) Why does reading work so quickly to reduce your stress level? Because books transport you into another world. They remove you from your current situation and allow you to step away from reality for a few minutes, relieving your brain of those stressful thoughts and worries. I don’t know about you, but sometimes escaping reality and leaving my worries behind is just what I need after a long day of raising little ones.
Reading turns our focus outward.
Malorie Blackmon says that “reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.” When you read to your children, their focus is no longer inward but is forced outward. They watch beloved characters face the highest of heights and the lowest of lows. They see siblings who work together, friends who help each other, and heroes who save the day. For a few minutes, they are no longer thinking about themselves–what they want or what they need. Your children will become more concerned with what happens to the characters in the stories they are listening to and will gain a greater perspective of what others need.
Reading provides inspiration.
You can’t read a book like The Lion the With and the Wardrobe, Charlotte’s Web, Little House in the Big Woods, or even Winnie the Pooh without feeling like you could conquer the world just as the characters in these stories have. To see someone face their fears or find their way around an obstacle will light a fire within you and your children – a fire that will inspire you to branch out, to try new things, and to see what you are capable of. Motherhood can feel mundane. Children can feel like they are bored. But none of us have to remain in these feelings–we can be inspired to experience more.
Will reading a book solve all of the problems that you face? No. Will your children always respond well when you read to them? No. Will you always feel like reading when you are mad, overwhelmed, frustrated, or just plum worn out? No. But will reading to yourself, to your kids, and with your spouse provide a helpful outlet for your daily challenges? Most definitely.
If you aren’t sure where to start in making reading a staple in your life, check out the Read-Aloud Revival. The resources and tips available are endless!