Reading to children worth time
Snuggling up to a child and reading a story can be one of the most rewarding times of the day for a parent or grandparent.
A string of studies shows benefits of reading aloud to children, especially if their questions are answered and the stories discussed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends daily reading to children by the time they are 6 months old.
I can’t recall that deep into childhood, but my parents read to me as far back as I can remember.
I do remember that after lunch I had my mother’s full attention as she let me choose a book. How much I learned I don’t know, but her soothing voice usually lulled me into a nap despite resistance.
Surely she tired of reading the story about the school bus that had a magical blue button on the dash that nobody was supposed to push.
A mischievous boy pressed it and found that it transported the kids anywhere they wanted to go. It also got me where my mom wanted me to go, which was to sleep.
At night, my father read to me from a richly illustrated volume of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. It still sits in a prominent spot in my library.
By the time I started school, he read to me from outdoor magazines and westerns, answering what must have seemed an endless string of questions the stories produced.
Nightly, I sat on the right arm of his big, red chair as he read and, with good humor, explained. I still have that chair, with its well-worn arm. It evokes good memories.
I believe I became a reader because of worlds opened by the words read to me and because I saw my parents enjoying books, magazines and the newspaper.
As with many things my parents did, their hours of reading to me led me to do the same for my children.
By then a couple of new children’s writers — Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak — had come along. They added a dimension to the pleasure of reading to wee ones.
Dr. Seuss’ books make an imaginative use of language linked with a cadence that even adults can’t resist reading with vigor. Soon my kids were expressively reciting them back to me verbatim.
Sendak created great stories with monsters that jumped off the pages and onto the pillows without causing real fright because the stories came out all right in the end.
Soon I’ll be traveling to see grandchildren. One of the things I look forward to is cuddling with them and reading stories that excite their imaginations, make them laugh, provoke questions or just soothe them into a nap.
I hope it’s a tradition they carry on to their children and grandchildren.
The books they read to those future generations may not be printed and bound, but that is not what matters.
It’s important their children and grandchildren know they are loved when they are read to and that they discover the magic of written words.
Send comments to Bob Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.