Tips & Advice

How to Read Books Like a Mom

by Devon A. Corneal

Photo credit: Franz-W. Franzelin, E+/Getty Images

There are people who read books and then there are moms who read books. Reading requires basic literacy, but reading like a mom requires an extra something that can’t quite be explained. Moms possess a certain mom-mojo that changes storytime from something ordinary to something extraordinary. If you’re going to read like a mom, you’ve got to have a few tricks up your sleeve.

1. Set the mood. Adventure stories require forts made out of blankets, books about jungles need a contingent of stuffed animals, and holiday stories need twinkly lights and a cup of hot chocolate. Moms are pros at setting the scene for every tale.

2. Skip over scary stuff. Say you’re reading a book about the Titanic to a 4-year-old and you suddenly realize that a lot of people are about to die. You have about one second to decide if you’ll scare the pants off your kid and deal with nightmares for a week, or skip over the frightening stuff before he notices. Moms know to save everyone on board. The truth can wait until he’s old enough to read the book on his own. Crisis averted.

3. Shorten everything. Then say you happen to be reading another book about the Titanic and you realize you only have five minutes until bedtime and the ship hasn’t even left port. Mere mortals might panic. Moms know to start skimming. I’ve managed to condense two pages cataloging the contents of the Titanic’s hold into, “They took a lot of stuff to feed everyone on the journey.” Four minutes and thirty seconds, people. Lights out.

4. Become someone else. Squeaky pigs, croaking frogs, growling wolves, salty pirates, evil witches, and even the occasional fish – moms can do it all.

5. Block out distractions. The dog is barking, the phone is ringing, someone is at the door, the dryer buzzer is going off, and it’s possible that the cat just knocked over a lamp. Does a mom stop reading? Not on your life. Total focus. Besides, she knows that if she waits long enough, someone else might fold the laundry and fix the lamp.

6. Know when to stop. Want to keep kids engaged? Moms know exactly when to stop reading to leave their kids begging for more. I’m pretty sure a mom invented the cliffhanger. Speaking of, there’s one more thing moms do better than anyone . . .