I am a reader and a book lover. I collect books. I read them. I listen to them. I recommend them to people on a daily basis. When my kids were babies, I read to them as much as possible. We went to the library several times a week. I often gifted books to them. And when it came time to teach them to read, I was (mostly) ready.
As a new homeschool mom, I felt it was my duty to make sure they were exposed to amazing literature and words and topics all in the form of actual books. Have I mentioned that I read Farmer Boy out loud to my kids when my oldest was five years old (and super active) with three-year-old twins in tow?
I was desperate to ensure they loved books and reading as much as I did. I certainly didn't want my Homeschool Mom card revoked (I was a wee bit worried about this in the early days). It was important they had physical books in their hands with pages to turn.
But here's the thing: my kids didn't always want to read what some might call "real" books. And there were plenty of times, due to illness or other life events, that reading just couldn't happen. Instead of being hard on myself (or worse, hard on my kids), we explored other forms of the written and spoken word.
Not only did we have fun, but my kids also expanded their vocabulary, learned new hobbies, explored various forms of art, and more.
Like most homeschooling things, you need to be flexible and change things when needed. I truly believe both reading books and listening to them makes for a well-rounded experience. Below, I'm sharing some tips and ideas that worked for us over the years.
I can't remember when we first came across graphic novels, but it was most likely when my oldest was in early elementary school and tearing through books faster than I could handle. At first, I was worried that these books didn't "count," but boy was I wrong!
Graphic novels not only gave him the satisfaction of reading an entire book in a sitting (depending on the length) but characters from television (yes, my kids watched television and DVDs and videos). My younger son loved the artwork he came across in books he found and often practiced drawing in the style of the illustrator of his favorite graphic novels.
We also enjoyed finding graphic novel versions of books we read, such as A Wrinkle In Time. We could compare the graphic novel to the audiobook or original text. With graphic novels becoming more and more popular, you're sure to find something that works for your child.
Is it too dramatic to say that audiobooks for homeschooling saved my bacon on more than one occasion? It's true! Even though I read to my kids nearly every day, we still leaned on audiobooks.
Because we were in the car driving to and from activities or homeschool co-op, audiobooks were my go-to to sneak in more learning and more of our favorite books. Even when my children could easily read for themselves, they often chose to listen to audiobooks at night or during rest time so they could do other things while listening.
Audiobooks provide just as many benefits as being read to or reading for yourself. Here's a helpful blog post on how to find free audiobooks for your homeschool.
And shout out to all the amazing narrators out in the world! Their amazing talents bring words alive for listeners. My children and I had just as many deep and meaningful conversations after listening to an audiobook then we did when we read a printed book.
In fact, my children would often listen to the same audiobook multiple times--each time learning something new or gaining new insight. And isn't that the whole point, friends? Audiobooks count. Period.
I separated comic books from graphic novels since they are different in length and scope (learn more about the differences between comic books and graphic novels). When one of my kids was having a reading slump, I introduced them to Garfield comics and they were absolutely delighted! They went on to read every collection at the library and then we started ordering our own copies.
Pretty soon, my other two kids got into Garfield's antics which then lead to the discovery of other comics. One kid even spent an entire year learning to draw comics, took a comic book drawing and writing class, and more. We found tons of easy-to-read comics on all kinds of "school" related topics as well and they were perfect on days when my kids didn't feel like reading a ton but I was looking for engaging material.
As much as I love books, I also love magazines. I've had magazine subscriptions in one form or another since I was 12 years old (Oh, hello, Tiger Beat and Seventeen). There was something about getting them in the mail each month that I loved.
My children grew to love magazines as well. They also made great gifts and perfect reading material for car trips or quiet time. Over the years, they had magazine subscriptions that covered a variety of topics like sports, nature, crafts, Lego, and more. The short, succinct articles, photos, puzzles, trivia, and other fun facts made reading enjoyable.
I usually kept older issues in the car for trips or waiting around at appointments (along with coloring books and crayons). Now that they are older, they still love getting special edition magazines from time to time at the bookstore, usually choosing something that aligns with their current hobbies.
A Variety of Reading Materials
I hope this article gives you the reassurance that you include a variety of reading materials in your day to support your child's reading adventures. I compiled a list of book series for ages eight to 12 that got my kids reading (and listening). By sharing your love of the written and spoken word, your child will be exposed to new stories, vocabulary, important lessons, and more.