I love children’s literature and when my kids were young I bought them books for special occasions and “just because.” We frequented the public library but we also built our own. At first we enjoyed the humor and the beautiful language. As they matured we gravitated to historical accounts and the inspiration of heroes. Reading became a part of our family identity.
Experts can give you plenty of reasons why you should read to your children. My support of reading isn’t backed by years of research, but it was born of first-hand, on-the-job experience.
Reading to a young child encourages physical closeness.
The kiddos must see the pictures so they snuggle next to you or better yet, climb into your lap. Cuddling and reading are a magic combination that builds relationship and stimulates intellectual growth in the same sweet moment.
Reading to a young child requires you to live in the moment.
You must put down what you are doing and give the child your complete attention. The more you abandon yourself to the story and fully you engage with the child, the more you will enjoy the time you spend reading. Silly voices and animated faces are encouraged.
Reading unleashes the child’s natural creativity.
God gives each one of us a desire to learn and explore. Books introduce us to new worlds and helps develop imagination and thinking. We think in words. Reading expands vocabulary and vocabulary expands our minds.
Reading builds a family framework.
When you read books again and again you will share humor and answer questions. You will share the experience of reading as well as the experiences of the characters in the book.
- You will climb into the wardrobe with Lucy and be there when she discovers the magical land called Narnia.
- You will recite the rhymes of Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose even without the book in hand.
- You will understand Alexander’s very bad day and the need to escape to Where the Wild Things Are.
Our boys enjoyed a series of humorous books written by Jane Yolen. Commander Toad and his crew explored space and “leapfrogged across the galaxy.” The kids laughed at the jokes and we laughed at the little guys enjoying the humor.
Books are expensive and you may struggle to justify the cost. Of course, use the public library. But when you can, consider buying books instead of toys and games. Use paperback books as a reward for accomplishment. Give hardback books for birthdays and other special occasions. Think of your purchase as an investment that will bring joy to your home now and in the years to come.
Years ago, I began a collection of Christmas picture books and look forward to bringing them out each year. Some people add ornaments to the tree—I added picture books to the hearth. Every evening during the season, the kids and I read one of the sweet Christmas stories. (To this day, I tear up when I think about The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, one of my favorite books of all time.)
Last month, our first grandchild entered the world and one of the first things I did was to “find the books.” Little Sam and his parents will be with us over Christmas and I plan on reading some of our family favorites to the little guy. Yes, he will be young, but it’s never too early to begin making memories with the ones you love.
What are your favorite children’s books? Did your parents read to you as a child? Why do you read to your kids now?
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