Image and text by Gabrielle. Remember Baby June?

Last month, I mentioned that we scheduled a “reading weekend” for our family, and I receive several inquiries wanting more info, so I thought it would be fun to give you a little rundown of what we did.

The idea came about because we’ve missed reading books as a family. We read to the younger kids at bedtime. And all of the kids read on their own (except little June who is just starting to learn). But we used to read more books as a family, and we feel like we used to read more books overall (Ben Blair and I included). I think that everyone has been so busy lately, that our reading habits have changed for the worse. Anyway, Ben got the idea of dedicating a weekend just to reading, and I thought that was genius.

Of course, we considered hosting this at home, but we knew we would be too distracted with errands and household tasks and regular schedules. The kids too! So we decided to go to a hotel. We picked a non-touristy spot that was only about 45 minutes away, so that we could get hotel rooms at a decent price. Then, we put together on a schedule, and considered what might work for June, who as I mentioned, is not an independent reader yet.

Obviously, depending on ages and stages, this wouldn’t work for every family, but here’s what we came up with:

Inaugural Reading Weekend Schedule

Friday Evening

6:00 – 7:00  Dinner — discuss schedule and expectations with the whole family

7:00 – 8:00  Listen to Wonder in car as we drove to the hotel (we had started this audiobook on an earlier roadtrip and had about 4.5 hours left)

8:00 – 9:00  Listen to Wonder at the hotel

9:00 – 9:30  Swim at the hotel

9:30 – 11:00  Watch Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Saturday

9:00 – 10:00  Breakfast at the hotel

10:00 – 12:30  Finish listening to Wonder

12:30 – 2:00  Personal Reading (for personal reading times, we occupied June with Dr. Suess early readers and with reading apps on the iPad)

2:00 – 3:30  Lunch at local diner, picked up a few things (like swim goggles, and dinner stuff we could eat at the hotel) at Target

3:30 – 5:30  Personal Reading

5:30 – 6:30  Read Plato’s Apology as a family — we took turns reading this aloud, June did not take part : )

6:30 – 7:30  Swim at the hotel

7:30 – 8:30  Read Munschworks Grand Treasury as a family — each person picked one story from the collection

8:30 – 10:30 Watch Penguins of Madagascar while eating a late dinner of munchies

Sunday

9:00 – 10:00  Breakfast at the hotel

10:00 – 11:00  Personal Reading

11:00 – 12:00  Listen to The Pearl of Great Price on the drive home

A few notes:

Initially, we created a more ambitious reading schedule, but since we’d never tried something like this before, we concluded that the primary aim was to make sure everyone enjoyed the weekend, so if/when we do it next time, everyone would be excited.

Even so, it was fairly ambitious. As a family, we worked in a book of scripture (well, for Mormons anyway), a core philosophy text by Plato, a contemporary novel, and some really fun children’s literature. Beyond these, in the personal reading, Maude began and finished Paper Towns by John Green, I began and finished Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson (she’s the sister of one of my best friends!), Ralph finished or nearly finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Ben Blair made a lot of progress in a John Muir biography, plus re-read some of Emile. Betty nearly finished a book in the Series of Unfortunate Events, June read Hop on Pop, Oscar read a lot of Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome, plus his shark book, and Olive re-read Princess Academy. Just thinking, it would be fun to count the number of pages we read altogether!

Overall, we felt it was a success and have already put another one on the calendar. If we can pull this off twice a year we think that would be amazing. One of my favorite parts is that it was really stress-free. Packing took just 15 minutes, the hotel was decent and simple — exactly what we needed, and there was no pressure to be tourists.

Ben Blair is particularly good at figuring out what our family needs to connect with each other, and this was perfect!

What do you guys think? Have you ever tried something like this? Do you think it would appeal to your kids? Would it appeal to you? I loved it so much that I’ve been wondering if I can somehow give away a reading weekend as a prize!

P.S. — The reading loft.