We are three weeks into the new school year with my step-daughter now in third grade. I am a brand-new mom, just figuring out how the carpool lane works and getting up-to-speed on my third grade math schools for the nightly homework assignments. We have a lot of transition going on in our family right now and many nights it has felt like we are moving through a checklist as quickly as we can and hoping we are doing everything right for my step-daughter.
One of the nightly activities that is part of her homework is to read for 20 to 30 minutes. The first couple of weeks, this was a challenge. Not because she didn’t want to read, but because she didn’t like any of the books she was reading. My husband and I would ask her questions at the end of the reading period and she wouldn’t be able to recall any of the story that she had just read. Because we hadn’t read the books, we didn’t know what questions to ask that might prompt her recall. So I decided to read the Nancy Drew book that my step-daughter had been reading the past couple of nights. And it was terrible. I understood why she was struggling with it.
It was eye-opening to do the thing that Sophie had been doing each night. As my husband and I were searching online for good books for eight-year-olds, it occurred to us that we should read all the books with her. And the Dean Family Book Club was born. We ordered three copies of the first book we selected as a family: “Anyone But Ivy Pocket.” We have been reading a chapter a night, all at the same time and at the same pace, and when we are done we talk for a few minutes about the book.
This little 30-minute sliver of time has become one of the things I most look forward to each night of the week.