Read Together: Meet the Minter family

Let Aliya Minter paint a picture for you of what reading time looks like in her house: “We’re a family of six, so just imagine everything crazy. Crazy, all the time. Pretty much that’s it.”

“You never know what’s going to happen,” she added. “You just never know. They’re still children. If a word comes up, if it looks funny, if it sounds funny, it could derail us for about 30 minutes. Giggling, laughing. There’s never any rhyme or reason to how things are going to go, to what we’re going to do.”

It might be crazy, Aliya said, but it’s also fun – always fun.

Growing up, she loved to read, and sees it as something that helped shape who she is today.

“It just took me to another world,” she said. “It helped me build up this imagination that I still have now. I can see a story leap off the page.”

Aliya hopes to instill that same love of reading in her four daughters: Essynce, 25; Arlie, 12; Ariel, 8; and Arlise, 5. She loves seeing their inner creativity come out, along with that same sense of adventure she remembers so well from her childhood.

“I’m watching their imagination come alive. They like to write their own stories, write their own songs,” she said. “I know reading helps with a lot of that. It builds that up in you. It’s the connection to literally anything you could do as a profession.”

Aliya has always read with her daughters regularly, but it wasn’t until later that she began to see a connection between that and another of the family’s passions: acting. Aliya said all those hours spent reading helped build skills her daughters now use in their work as film and TV actors.

“I did not know then that we were going to really dig deep into acting,” she said. “It helped, having that instilled in them, connected with, now we’re acting and you have to know how to read words and make them come alive for other people. It was a perfect connection.”

That connection also led to a new family pastime, of gathering as a group to read books out loud together. It began when Aliya’s oldest daughter, Essynce, had an audition scheduled with little time to memorize the many lines required. She used a teleprompter for the recorded audition and, upon watching it back, found she was unhappy with how she sounded reading. She wanted to practice that skill, and decided to recruit her family to help.

“So she is the one that actually started the, ‘Let’s get a book for everybody and let’s all read out loud,’” Aliya said. “We can practice hearing how we sound, making sure that we’re pronouncing words properly, making sure we’re pacing, making sure we’re understanding what we read, and just going a little step further for not just reading but for acting purposes.”

Essynce said it also provides an opportunity to play around with different characters and voices.

“In addition to speaking clearly, I’m really big on reading with expression and bringing life to the characters of the story,” Essynce said. “As soon as I give my sisters an example of how they should read, whether I’m speaking like a queen or barking with a growl like a dog, I love seeing their faces light up and how they laugh as they become motivated to put some feeling behind what they’re reading.”

And beyond all else, that read aloud time is important quality time for a busy family, Aliya said.

“There’s nothing that can replace how it feels to spend time with my husband and my children together all in one space, doing something that we love,” she said. “I know we’re safe. We’re together. We’re learning together. When they get older, I want them to remember that we spent time together. We grew together. We loved, and we were always there, together.”