As the mother of small toddlers, there was one thing that would always get my undivided attention…If I was doing laundry, if I was cooking dinner, if I was trying to accomplish any household chore or activity…. if my children brought me a book, I would always find the closest place to sit down, put my tasks on hold and read them what ever they brought to me!
Many a time, with the spaghetti sauce simmering and the salad half chopped, we would slide down on the floor and read together. I had always loved books as a child and because we lived in a foreign country and used a second language, I wanted to be sure they got their fill of English and learned to love to read. Boy, am I glad I did that…
Years later, with my children in middle and high school we still spent time reading chapter books out loud. This was partially because we had returned to the US and I was helping them catch up with grade appropriate reading levels, and partly because we liked to read together. Again, I am so glad that was a family practice…
As the empty nest phase of life began to creep towards me, I returned to school to do a couple of graduate teaching degrees so that once my children were launched, I could enter the classroom and become a “certified” teacher for other children. (Though I never homeschooled my kids who were public school attenders, I did see my role as their primary “teacher” of life skills and assisted with many things academic…It was them who suggested I should go to graduate school!)
During this time, I ran into the research and writing of an Australian woman named Mem Fox and her passionate ploy for literacy. She has done literacy research that shows some clear advantages for those read to from an early age over those who were not as fortunate to have animated read aloud adults in their lives.
How thankful I was as I listened to the lectures, that though I did not “know” this when my children were young, I had read to them extensively, daily, animatedly and interactively. Maybe it was intuitive, maybe it was just because I so loved words and books and I wanted that to be a part of their lives too…who knows, but I left that grad course thrilled not to feel an iota of guilt on this subject, because I read to my kids and I knew they were the better for it!
Today, with each baby shower I go to, I find that choosing my gift for the new mom is a simple task…Yes, you guessed it; I give the mom-to-be a handful of books that she can begin to read aloud to her infant from the very first day. It is never too early to start. Check out Mem Fox’s website, particularly her “Ten Read Aloud Commandments,” and create both a developmental advantage, but more importantly, a cozy time shared between parent and child around a book!
This is part of the series 31 Days of Encouragement for Mama that is running through the month of October. Check out all the posts in the series here.