Dad Portrait by Gracie

If you enjoyed Aaron Zenz’s interview last week…wait…there’s more!

But first, the winner of the Howie I Can Read four-book giveaway is Cari from BookScoops! (Winner was chosen by Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who entered. Be sure to visit frequently through March–there’s more giveaways to come!

Aaron and his eldest three children, Issac, Gracie and Lily, review books and share their fan art on the Bookie Woogie blog.

I have to say, it’s brilliant. I mean, kids reviewing kids’ books! It’s a blogging breakthrough!

Aaron, it’s obvious your artistic talent has been inherited. So has your love of kidlit. What can you tell other parents about sharing a good book together?

For our family, books have always been a great way of bonding. My oldest son is 10 now, and from the time he was 3 or so, I’ve read aloud to him before bedtime. And I didn’t always pick traditional kiddie fare. Pretty early on we read Treasure Island, all the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle in Time… things of that nature. And although he may not have been able to comprehend every word of what we were reading, I think a love of story has been instilled, and also a sense of what makes for a good story. And I have to imagine it’s good for him just to hear his dad’s voice for an hour or so.

After Gracie got older, I began reading a different book to each of them every night, but now that the kids’ numbers are multiplying, I read to all of them together. It loses some of the parent-child intimacy, but the alternative is leaving someone out. Or reading for hours and hours!

There’s some selfish motive as well. With as busy as I am, I find it hard to justify taking time out to read things for my own pleasure. So I read them books I want to hear too, and it makes it seem more okay. Fortunately my taste still lies in kids’ books and YA, so everyone’s happy. The same goes for the Bookie Woogie blog… I would find it hard to justify spending time working on a blog where I rattle on about myself and my own interests. Devoting time on a blog for my kids seems happy all around.

Since we’ve started the Bookie Woogie blog, the kids’ own story writing has taken off miraculously! They have begun writing such rich, descriptive tales of their own. Taking a little extra time to discuss what we’ve read, how stories are constructed, how pictures are made, has really fueled their own imaginations.

z-familybookcase1In our home, we’ve surrounded ourselves with books. We have six book cases in our living room, a wall of shelves in the girls’ room, a case full of magazines and non-fiction in the boys’ room, three full bookcases in my studio including one stuffed in a closet due to the lack of room. On top of that, we usually have 30-40 books checked out from the library at any given time. The kids have always been surrounded by books, and they just think it’s natural and normal.

We homeschool as well, and have started noticing how this even influences our younger kids. Lily taught herself how to read at four years old. She just silently listened in on her older siblings’ lessons and surprised us all. She’s reading Judy Moody right now — she just picked up a book I had gotten for Gracie and started reading it. My wife and I always said Lily did it on her own and we couldn’t take any credit for it, but the more I thought about it, I realized that’s not entirely true. We’ve made conscious and deliberate choices (and sacrifices) to create and environment of learning in the home. So why wouldn’t that have impacted her? Three-year-old Elijah seems to be following suit. He’s already beginning to sound out and spell words. And one-year-old Evie is penning her first graphic novel (just kidding!!!).

All this, of course, has impacted my own writing. Articulating to the kids what goes into a good book, makes me more aware of those principles when I create. And when listening to them talk about books, I can see what elements kids are drawn to — and how much they catch! Since starting the Bookie Woogie blog, I’ve been amazed at all the things they grasp, things that I had figured would go unnoticed by a child.

Thanks for sharing your bookie good times with us, Aaron! We wish you much success!

Readers, please leave a comment about reading with your child. How do you instill a love of reading in your home?