I am a big believer in making time, and lots of it, for books before bed. My family was even interviewed about it once by Andrea Gordon at the Toronto Star.
Four years later, and the boys are bigger and, significantly, they play a lot more hockey. All three boys play competitive hockey, and we make 10-12 trips to the rink a week. This is a good thing, mostly, and I’m a little bit proud and a lot relieved to be raising kids who are so eager to be fit and healthy and active. (Not my DNA.) However, hockey eats into time for all kinds of things: playdates, family dinners, unstructured time, and, yes, bedtime stories.
Time is never found, it’s made, and I make time for bedtime reading whenever it’s remotely possible, which is still usually four times a week of an hour of reading aloud before bed. I am a stickler for bedtimes, because some of us are quite cranky if we don’t get a full night’s sleep, even if some of us are in our forties. But if I can squeeze in a chapter before Youngest’s bedtime, I will always go the extra mile to do so. I’m now reading aloud to Youngest and Middlest, and it’s all Harry Potter all the time. After Youngest pops off to bed, Middlest reads by himself, sometimes curled up with me and my book, and sometimes for up to two hours before it’s time for his lights out. (Definitely my DNA.) It’s a magical time. I am so profoundly grateful for it.
Eldest does not read with predictable regularity any more, though, and that saddens me. He is at the rink most often, and he comes home late. He will occasionally get immersed in a series, but it’s not a dependable thing. I recently heard an interview that impressed me so much, I went out and bought the book for him. (Seriously, go listen to this interview: James Frey being interviewed by a boy named Joshua for The Guardian. It’s not often I am more impressed by the interviewer than the interviewee, but this kid is sharp.) Anyway, I learned from this interview that James Frey’s new YA novel The Calling, the first in the Endgame trilogy, has a puzzle built into it, and the first person to solve the puzzle has a chance to win $500,000 of James Frey’s own dollars, currently sitting in a vault in Las Vegas in gold bars. “This will get his attention,” I thought. I’m glad to say that while it did get his attention, and while he did find my enthusiasm about the interview infectious, he did not make a huge effort to read the book quickly to solve the puzzle to win the gold.
Reading should be its own reward, and I’m glad that money was not sufficient enticement. I have a quiet faith that one day, when there is somewhat less hockey (and soccer and basketball and swimming) on his schedule, Eldest will make his way back to daily and lengthy engagements with a book. Reading is my abiding delight, and I do so want them to have that kind of pleasure in their daily lives.