You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be –
I had a Mother who read to me.
~from The Reading Mother by Strickland Gillian
I did have a mother who read to me. Constantly. We had no TV or videos growing up, and reading together was one of our favorite forms of entertainment. We usually had a book we were reading in the morning (usually a biography), a book we read together after lunch, and a bedtime read-aloud. We wore out at least one set of Little House on the Prairie books. I am guessing we read that series together a dozen times.
But when I became a mom, it was REALLY hard for me to read to my kids. I just didn’t enjoy it. Read to myself? Sure. Read to the little ones? Zzzzzzzzz…
I did read my oldest the Happy Little Family series when she was about four. That was fun.
But for the most part I really could not stand reading aloud and I guess I convinced myself it was not that important.
To be honest, I am not sure when my attitude changed, but it was a process. I noticed how my daughter’s reading proficiency exploded after she listened to many audio books. My reluctant reader son started to appreciate books after I made a commitment to read to him.
I just made myself do it. I promised myself that I would read to them at least a little each day. Every now and then we miss a day, but most days each of the younger ones choose at least one book and I read to them for a little while.
It has become the highlight of their day. We pile up on the couch with a favorite blanket and enjoy great stories together. Even the busy baby wants to join us. It is not easy to read while he wiggles and climbs everywhere, but he is learning to love books. He will pick up a story, say “Book!” open it, and “read”: “Bababababa!” We have no idea what he is saying, but he knows that books have words and he wants to share them!
I have come to understand that there are not many childhood problems that can’t be fixed or at least helped with a good read aloud.
Child hates reading? Read aloud.
Child needs attention? Snuggle and read aloud.
Child is sick? Cuddle and read aloud.
Child is sad? Choose a funny story and read aloud.
Child is discouraged? Grab an encouraging adventure and read aloud.
Child is anxious? Pick an inspiring biography and read aloud.
Child is lagging behind in school? Find great living books (yes, even for math!) and read aloud.
Child has spiritual needs? Open the Bible to its great adventures and read aloud.
Child wants world peace?
Well, OK, maybe it doesn’t cure everything! But it comes close!
I have grown to really love reading to my kids. In fact, I hate that I don’t have time to do it more. But I am excited that in this way I can lay a foundation for literacy, feed their souls, fill their minds with the best thoughts and ideas, and create memories by this one simple act of reading aloud.
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