Should we keep readings short?

I saw this question online today. A mom asking why we would possibly want to stop reading if children are enjoying the story? I thought this was a great question so here are some thoughts on just that.

For enjoyable free readers that they can just read or if we reading a story for the story’s sake we just read chapter after chapter. I do however find when we talk about the book say a year later they do remember very little besides the plot. The idea around slow reading is so that a single idea is introduced and digested through narration and the science of relationships builds layer upon layer year upon year. When we started with CM 10 yrs ago I felt the same however now I see and understand it. I see how the little by little has let my children not simply know the info and the story but rather they have a deep understanding of complex thoughts and ideas. They are able to discuss, with references, why they hold a certain point of view. The older 4 are now 17, 13 and 12 yr old twins. Lessons are still short – maybe 20 min. They listen attentively and all want to narrate first. I remember a friends daughter reading about Gregor Mendel’s pea hybrids. She’d done her single reading of only a page or so for that week. Days later on fetching her daughter from ballet she exclaimed – “I know why little sister has blond hair and we are all brown. I was thinking about my reading and……” had she read this single idea amidst a whole story – the book was short enough to read in a sitting or 2 – she would never have pondered this single idea, developed the science of relationships for herself. This way, instead of information passed from teacher to pupil the child is required to do the work and in so doing so they gain knowledge.

Besides this Charotte Mason encourages us to stop before their minds drift off and they loose concentration as part of reading to them is to build the habit of attention. We want to stop when they still excited and want more so that the next day is a treat all over again.

Drawing while listening to a reading.

I’d encourage you to give it a try with just 1 or 2 books and give it time for you to develop the rhythm of a short reading followed by a narration and see at the end of the year which books they have retained more memory of.