I love to read! I remember my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Shelby reading to our class the classic tale of Curious George; that engaging little monkey who was always getting into trouble. In the third grade we studied American Indians and Mrs. Jensen read us a book about a little Navajo boy. In school, my favorite time of the day was when my teachers read to the class. My summers were filled with reading dozens of books and I was one of the first in our neighborhood to join the yearly Summer Library Reading Program.
On Sundays my father read to us from the funny papers and each year my mother bought all of us a new book for Christmas.
Reading is one of those activities that takes you to places of the heart and mind and leaves you with a longing to return often. I think I’d rather read a book than eat a chocolate bar.
I raised my sons to be readers and did this by reading to them every day until they left home for college. We were a read-aloud family. Both reading aloud and reading alone were important traditions in our home and one that reaped big rewards.
When our first son Jason was born, I took books with me to the hospital and started reading to him almost immediately. The nurses thought I was loony. I didn’t care—I was starting a tradition. My goal for reading to all my babies was the same: hear my voice; know that I love them; and introduce them to the wonderful world of books.
Reading became a ritual in our home. We read books before school, after school, before bedtime, on trips, in the car and sometimes at the dinner table. We made weekly trips to the library (where we checked out at least 50 books at a time) and our favorite outings were spent at bookstores (it is sad that they are disappearing…)
In the early years of reading, I noticed that each of my sons looked at different things on the pages of the books which later correlated to other interests they had.
Jason was always captivated by the words on the pages and would point to the words and ask—“What does that word say?” Today he practices law; continues to love words, think in words, and is an excellent writer.
Ryan was fascinated with the illustrations and words. Today, he is working on his PhD in English and he is a talented artist. He still loves pictures, words and is an exceptional writer and has been published in numerous journals.
Brandon was mesmerized by the expressions on each character’s face. He would ask, “Why do they look that way?” “Why are they looking mad? Sad? Angry? Happy?” Brandon has a degree in Film and Philosophy. He is a gentle soul; is always concerned about how people feel and is an avid reader and superb writer.
Trevor wanted to break down the parts of the book and talk about them. He loved a lot of different kinds of books including How Things Work, and books on science and the world. He has a business degree, reads a book a week and is an incredible writer. (For his birthday this year, his wife made him a cake in the shape of a book that said: “To My Bookworm”).
All four boys continue to be avid readers and outstanding writers. Thankfully their wives love reading so the tradition of reading aloud to my grandchildren continues to yet another generation.
In the past 30 years there have been many books written on the importance of reading aloud to your children each and every day. Here are just a few of the findings of what reading aloud each day to your children can do for them:
**Builds early readers, early talkers
**Increases vocabulary, spelling and writing
**Increases attention span
**Builds Imagination and creativity
**Stimulates questioning—the best way for a child to learn
**Builds a bond between the child and parent
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your child, grab a stack of books and begin reading! It will be the best tradition you will start in your home!
Reading Suggestion: The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. This book was my “Bible” from 1980 on. It’s an incredible book that should stay on your nightstand and read every year until your children leave the nest. It includes reasons to read-aloud, how to read-aloud, and books to whet your child’s appetite. It is a MUST!