I'm a total book nerd. I am always in the middle of a book at any given time. For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. I'm also a bit snobby about them...I'm ok lending out a book if I really trust you, but before I allow it to enter your hands there is basically a blood oath that you won't dog ear a single page.
Also, there was a period of time where I tried the Nook, then the Kindle, and I always find myself just wishing I had the paperback.
I love having multiple bookshelves filled with books, organized by genre and author. Some I've never read, I just like to own (such as the complete works of Shakespeare) Some, I've read more times than I have fingers to count (Harry Potter, anyone?) and some I know I won't read again, but don't dare throw away because I hope my children will some day enjoy.
I have two daughters, a 6 year old and a 1 year old. From the time my oldest, Hailey was about 2, she had already begun to gather an impressive collection. Not only was I a frequent shopper at the major bookstores, buying her all the classics from my childhood, but we also participated in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.
The Imagination Library program is only available in some states but it is entirely free and they send one age-appropriate book for your child a month, until they are 5 years old!! I encourage everyone to check if it's available in your area.
As Hailey got older, it went from cute board books she usually had the attention span to sit through, to more recently, chapter books we'd read together.
She can now read to me as well, which is beyond special. Reading together has always been part of our nighttime routine. When it was just the three of us, my husband and I would each read her one or two books a night.
Now that a baby is in the mix, she and I read together while my husband puts Penelope, my 1 year old, to bed.
In fact, one of the most weighted consequences we can scare Hailey with is the prospect of skipping our evening book. We could take away TV for a week and it would not have nearly the same reaction as one missed night of reading! I'd hate to miss it, too.
|Not even a blackout can stop us!|
While we still tuck in picture books at her level occasionally, we've had a passion project for about 6 months now. I am beyond thrilled to say she has been sharing in my love of Harry Potter! She was interested in the movies, and I insisted she could watch them only if we read the books together first.
We try to do one chapter a night, which doesn't always happen for numerous reasons – whether it be her falling asleep, not focusing, a really long chapter, etc.. so it takes a bit to get to the end of a book.
At the end of each, we then watch the movie together. At this point in time, we have recently started book 5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. While I think some things are a bit over her head, and I find my self having to remind her of facts chapters later, I love the experience it gives us. It is my most favorite series and discovering that magic through her eyes is unlike any other feeling.
I feel like reading together is such a major bonding for us. I know that there are many studies that show the longerm benefits of doing so, but on a smaller scale it just really brings us together. It is a time of day we both look forward to. Especially once a new baby was brought on it was harder to carve out time that was just me and her, but we have managed to make this count.
Without even going into a textbook lecture of all the psychological reasons why you should be doing this with your children, let's just shoot for the obvious:
Introducing a love of literature to your children early on will encourage them to continue the practice alone, helping them in learning to read and to develop the habit of reading for pleasure.
I also believe you are creating a wonderfully amazing imagination in a child. Hearing my child pretending to be a wizard, or princess or goblin based on a story book character is so magical. Above that, reading has allowed for a comfortable launchpad for necessary conversations about complicated topics, such as religion and 'growing up'.
Reading to the little ones is a bit more challenging, but I've learned you can't expect them to sit still and listen first and foremost. I feel like with my 1 year old, I'm teaching her what a book is, with the turning pages and treating them well.
Many times a day she brings me a book (or a GOOK as she says) and says “Please” (“Pweez”) wanting me to flip through it with her. As far as I'm concerned that's setting solid groundwork for our future story times, and that is good enough for now.
I look forward to the day when both my children can read to me, and we can continue this tradition for as long as they're willing.
It's never to late to start. Sit down with your kids and take a journey to a far away land. Open their minds to the endless possibilities that lay between the majestic pages of each tome. You won't regret it.