I love reading aloud to my children. I also love being read to. The night before my wedding, I was very concerned about being able to fall asleep, so my mom curled up beside me and read Madeleine L'Engle's Meet the Austins to me until I fell asleep. I don't know at what point in childhood we stopped reading at bedtime. I am certain we kept it going as long as possible and I definitely begged her to read special Christmas stories to me well into my teens. Many of the books I remember best from childhood were not books I read myself, but books that my mom read to me.
While nightly reading used to be a solid part of our family life, we have struggled recently. Meg and Clare are older. They often want to read their own books before bed. Anne prefers a few picture books, while Meg and Clare want chapter books. But perhaps our biggest struggle has been meeting expectations. For almost a year, we read through the Chronicles of Narnia. Each night the girls waited anxiously to hear what would happen next to the Pevensies or cousin Eustace and Jill. When we finished one book, there was no question that we would pick up the next book in the series. It was all so easy.
We also have many fun memories from reading the Narnia series. One evening, my parents who were visiting sat quietly with us and listened to several chapters with the girls. A friend hosted as book club meeting about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in which the kids discussed the book and ate Turkish Delight. As you can see from the picture above, as we were finishing the series, we moved outside and read by our Narnia lamppost (though, as I recall, the bugs were a bit distracting to the girls).
Since finishing the Narnia series, no one can agree on a book to read. We'll start a book and then the kids lose interest. We've continued to listen to books together on CD in the car. As I mentioned here, we are currently listening to the Penderwick books and all three girls are enjoying it. I, of course, still read lots of picture books to Anne. But something still seems to be missing. I guess I long to be Mrs. Austin from Meet the Austins reading classic children's books to her four kids, who ranged widely in age, each night before bed.
If anyone has suggestions for a great series to read aloud to the girls, please comment below. I'd love to hear them.