Part two of this weekly celebration of children’s book is a guest post from Bonnie from A Working Title, on reading as a child, and reading to her child. How has reading changed your life?
Some of my earliest memories are of being read to by my mother. We would lay in my bed at night after picking out my favorite story book, and read together. After she was done, the book always went under my pillow so I could dream about it. These are some of my happiest memories, and a large part of why I am such a voracious reader today.
My mother made it a point to share books with me. We went to the library together, and the bookstore, and every holiday I received new books from her and the rest of my family. I still vividly remember the Christmas I opened the boxed set of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, and my copies of the Little House books are battered and well loved after 15 years of reading them. I think my most favorite book to have read to me was Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, and one of the first books I began reading to myself.
Because of my mother and the book-rich environment she provided, by second grade I was reading at a sixth grade level. By sixth grade, I was reading the same books my teachers were reading for fun. I was on a first name basis with all the librarians in town. My best friend was the daughter of the head librarian, and I can remember competing with her to see who could figure out silent reading first. I worked at my school’s book faire every year and was paid in free books. I was a book lover, a bibliophile, a collector.
My room was decorated with book cases and books instead of posters of boys and bands, although that’s not to say I didn’t like those things, too. There just wasn’t room on the walls! Many important parts of school came relatively easy for me, especially paper writing and critical analysis assignments. My vocabulary was large and well developed, and I could roll SAT words off my tongue like nobody’s business. I still read every day, and now, with my own son, we read a book (or two, or five) every night before he goes to sleep. It’s something I treasure deeply, and I’m so glad I can share my love of books with him, just as my mother did with me.
All this memory mining to say, there is nothing more important, and nothing easier, than reading to your child. It expands their minds and their imagination, and introduces them to new vocabulary and concepts. Reading together promotes a lifetime of learning, and brings families together in the evenings for quiet time and sharing. If you don’t have a child of your own, read to your nieces or nephews, or younger siblings. Volunteer at your local library or woman’s shelter for children’s story time. And if you’re too shy for that, donate to your library, elementary school, or other established literacy promoting charity.
It’s Children’s Book Week, a week to promote the books we loved as children, and the new books coming out from authors today. But there’s no reason at all that it can be Children’s Book Week every week. Make it a point to share books with the kids around you at all times of the year. They’ll benefit from it, and so will you. Make book lovers out of everyone, and the world will be filled with enough books for everyone.