Read Together: Meet the Prater family

Ben Prater and his wife, Jenny, started a reading routine with their son when he was a newborn, reading a few stories to him after bath time, just before bed.

Now, five years and a second child later, it’s as much a part of their kids’ nighttime routine as brushing their teeth. 

“We have dinner, we go upstairs and take baths, and we let them pick a book, and they climb into our bed and we all read, taking turns reading each book before we go off to bed,” Prater said. “It’s just a good time for us to be together. We’re both really busy at work during the day, so it’s just a little bit of us time.”

It’s a time for the family to slow down and reconnect after a day of work, school, and daycare. 

“It’s just making sure we can maintain that little bit of time, even if it’s 15 or 20 minutes that we can all just be in mommy and daddy’s bed, and read a book together,” Prater said. “It’s just really important to us, to kind of keep that connection there.” 

Their 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter each choose the book they want to read from their bookshelf each night. They have old standbys but are also finding new favorites along the way, Prater said, including “The Book With No Pictures,” of which his son was initially skeptical. 

“He did not want to read that book. He decided that was a terrible book, and because it didn’t have pictures, it wasn’t something he was interested in,” Prater said. “And it took me a few minutes to convince him, like, ‘Let’s just try this tonight, and we can read something else if you don’t like it.’ And by page three, he was cracking up so hard, just laughing, and loved it. And we ended up reading that book five nights in a row. Him laying in between us, cracking up, which also made Reyna crack up – so just everybody laying in bed, and just dying laughing, that’s probably one of my most recent favorite memories.” 

Through moments like those with books, Prater can see how much and how fast his kids are growing and learning. 

“I was just realizing that he’s at a point where he’s starting to understand that a book’s not just about the pictures,” he said. “Any time they’re taking away something from a book, or thinking about the meaning behind a book – just any time I feel like they’re growing – has always been a really fond memory.” 

He hopes their reading time builds the skills his children need in school, while also building their family bond. 

“We know how important it is as they grow and get ready for school,” Prater said. “But also just how important it is to slow down and spend time as a family. We hope they’re also gaining that appreciation for it.”