I can remember giving my days (and often my nights) over to books when I was a child and teenager. I read in great gulps, bingeing on books. When I found myself in a good book, I would shut out the rest of the world, shunning friends, family, and often sleep, in order to read. I read while eating, taking a bath, riding in the car, sitting in math class.
Now, I rarely sit down and read for more than half an hour at a time. On most days, I simply don’t have great chunks of time to read. I work full-time, teaching a 4/4 load (4 courses per semester), usually with 4 different preps each semester. I have a 120-mile round-trip commute to work. I have a husband, two children with emotional special needs, six cats, and a dog. I write, exercise, cook and bake, watch hours of sports, and make a valiant effort every single day to read the entire Internet. I also try to get 8 hours of sleep every night.
Yet somehow, I’m reading more than I ever have. In 2013, I read over 700 books–about 530 picture books and 170 young adult, middle-grade, and adult fiction and nonfiction books.
I ask the students in my literature classes to read for several hours a week, and I know finding this time seems challenging for many of them. I’d find it daunting to identify a five-hour chunk of time to read each week too.
But that’s not how I do it. I read in what Donalyn Miller in Reading in the Wild calls “edge time.” Waiting at the dentist office. Stuck in line at the bank. During commercials. While my kids are at sports practice. I listen to audiobooks on my commute to work. When my students have time in class to read, I read too. I read aloud to my kids at breakfast and after dinner. (The breakfast reading is what made my picture book total skyrocket this year.) And every night, no matter how tired I am, I read for 20-30 minutes before turning out the light. All these little bits of reading time add up.
I have two special reading times each week when I devote a longer chunk of time to reading: Friday afternoons from 2-3, after my husband has gone to work and before my kids get home, and Saturday morning, before the rest of my family wakes up.
I make it a rule to always have a book with me. I have books in my car, my purse, my book bag, in every room of my house, and all over my office. I have books on my computer, my iPad, and my phone.
I could easily find more time to read if I unplugged more.
I mostly read what I enjoy–which makes a difference. I want to get back to my book, because it’s almost always good.
Reading books is important to me–personally and professionally. As Randy Bomer reminds us in Time for Meaning, we make time for what we value. Whenever I start thinking that I don’t have enough time to do the things I want to do, I remind myself of Bomer’s words and how I have choices about what I prioritize.
How do you find time to read?