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The kernels of family bonding: Popcorn and a good book

January 25, 2001

The kernels of family bonding: Popcorn and a good book

Teaching your child | By Lisa Tedrick Prejean


You've heard experts talk about family nights.

Kids need time with their parents, taking part in a fun activity.

So, your weekend plan to rent several movies and watch them over a bowl of popcorn with your clan sounds like it should fit the bill, right?

Um. Not really.

Think about it. How much interaction would that provide?

Other than a few comments about the show or the need for more butter in the bowl, your togetherness is pretty much limited to staring at the same spot for an hour and a half.

Sharon Giles, a literacy resource teacher at Boonsboro Middle School, says she'd like to see families switch gears and opt to spend time enjoying popcorn ... and a book.

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It sounds simple, but if you don't write it on your calendar, it probably won't happen. Set a regular time - the first Friday of every month, every Monday night at 7, etc. Gather on the couch, crack open a book and let the sharing begin.

"If you have a basketball game scheduled, you don't set that aside for something else," Giles says.

Likewise, families should schedule time to read.

"Sometimes, if we don't set aside that time, it's lost," Giles says.

Here are some suggestions from Giles:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Ask your kids what they're reading and use their answers as a springboard to start family reading.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> The family can set the ground rules, but it could be as easy as everyone gathering in the family room or living room to read together, Giles says.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> You could discuss over popcorn what you're reading and share excerpts from it, then have reading time. Or, you could have quiet reading time, break for a discussion and then read some more.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> You could all read the same book or everyone could read something different.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Planning a vacation this summer? Give everyone something to read about your destination. Make plans based on what seems appealing to various family members.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Do you share a hobby or sport interest? Check out the latest information on that topic.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Parents who are reluctant readers shouldn't be intimidated. You don't have to read a novel. Bring your favorite magazine or newspaper. Pull out that manual for the new appliance or software you received for Christmas. Need to fix the car? Read up on it. Browse through those recipes you've wanted to try.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Need reading materials or other ideas? Plan a family outing to the library and make selections together.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Try a book on tape so the family can share the same experience.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Encourage your kids to invite a friend to join your family for a quiet evening of reading. Kids today are so hurried and rarely get time to relax with their friends. They may be relieved to have this opportunity for uninterrupted, relaxed reading.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Vary your snack. You may want to try a different brand or flavor of popcorn each time. Have everyone critique the flavor and keep a running log of comments.




Here are titles recommended by Giles for middle-schoolers:

"The Haymeadow" by Gary Paulsen, "If I Forget, You Remember" by Carol Lynch Williams, "Crush" by Ellen Conford and "Holes" by Louis Sachar.

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