I come from a family of readers. I have to credit my mother for this. She would tuck my sister and I into bed, her arms thrown around us, curling us tight to her, and we would snuggle into our bedtime ritual of “reading before lights out.” We were ridiculously young when she started doing this, I don’t even think my sister could read yet, and I was pretty sure I was still at the stage of sucking on the book pages. However, every night we looked forward to our cozy reading ritual.
Mom would read the words of course, but sometimes she would just point to the pictures and ask us “what’s the story?”, letting our developing imaginations come up with the creative narratives. As we got older, she would point out words and ask us to read them along with her, until finally my sister and I would take turns reading the books out loud.
My dad got in on the literary slumber party too, however, as opposed to my mother who used this time to help us kiddos wind down, dad would act out full performances. Picture a cross between Gandalf and Peter Pan; bed time with dad would technically include the “reading before lights out” motto, however he would… embellish. With dad, suddenly “See spot run” began an impromptu up-tempo theatrical performance, including a parade of stuffed animals, animated voices, and some liberal embellishments which went over the heads of us kids, but would somehow make my mother laugh, roll her eyes, and swat at him pointing out “the kids are too wound up to sleep now!”
My family often shares books, getting into the same series at the same time. I don’t mean we all have our own copies, nope, we are book snobs- but also cheap; so it’s more like a relay race where the book is the baton. It’s not uncommon for one of us to set our book down, only to come back and find someone else has been reading it… like Goldilocks, but with books.
Our book sharing was the equivalent of the rule “you snooze you lose”. My dad would gleefully say “if you set a book down, it’s just begging to be read”. The honor of breaking my dad of his book-stealing-ways goes to my sister, for leaving out E.L. James and Stephanie Myers novels. I’m still not sure my dad has recovered from 50 shades of gray and theTwilight saga.
Without question, these early reading experiences as children helped shape all of us.
My sister became a teacher and loves to treat herself to new books, every now and then wandering around upscale bookstores, drinking Starbucks and perusing the glossy titles. She kept up the “reading before lights out” tradition with her kids, and they are both avid readers.
One day I received a lengthy phone call from my niece outlining everything that had happened in her book series. I listened to her excitedly try to explain a sixty-book story arc. I was thoroughly enthralled, and yet utterly baffled about the narrative. She was ten at the time, so I heard about the series from the ending to the beginning (Spoiler alert much?). When I asked about plot clarification points, she sighed exasperated, “That’s how I remember it Auntie! It’s not easy to say all the book-stuff-happenings in words you know.” Good point. Giggling at her pouty cuteness, I responded with, “Tell me about it kiddo, you should try reading four books a month and writing an original book recommendation list with a looming deadline.” (Shameless plug to my previous work- here).
Every couple of months I get a voicemail from my mother delightfully sharing her recent “score” from the local Goodwill bookstore. She’s one of the rare people who gets excited when the previous book owner made marks and comments in the margins. I don’t have the heart to tell her that I’ve recognized some the handwriting as hers, and I’m pretty sure she’s repurchased titles she’s donated more than once.
My dad recently started using an eReader, which is super progressive as he still manages to text my home phone at least once a week. More than once I’ve had to explain to him “No Dad, they didn’t forget to send you a remote control for your eReader” But he’s getting the hang of it.
As for myself, I’m a huge fan of my local library. I love strolling into the neighbour library, tossing a friendly wave to the smiling librarians, and wandering through the stacks checking out the new and old titles alike.
I’m really grateful to my parents instilling in me a deep passion for reading, and I honestly think it greatly influenced my love for learning. Regardless of the medium by which the story is presented, whether fiction or non-fiction, many studies have shown the benefits of reading, especially from an early age. “Reading opens doors to the universe, and beyond; the younger a reader is, the more doors it can open. Through reading we are able to learn an incredible amount and gain insight into so many different worlds, actions and motivations. There are many benefits to developing reading skills from a young age.” (Kumon.com)
According to Children’s Bureau reading with children can significantly benefit the child’s life in several fundamental ways;
- Developing a special bond with your child
- Improved imagination and creativity
- Increased concentration and discipline
- Supported cognitive development
- Improved language skills
- Preparation for academic success
- Cultivating lifelong love of reading
Life in 2022 can be very busy, stressful and unpredictable. Being a parent is a gift, and yet, can be overwhelming at times. So trying to find a way to fit in reading, along with the many other tasks parents do in a day, may seem a bit daunting. The good news is, it may be easier than you think to include reading in your child’s day. According to Elizabeth Barnes, Executive Director of the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia, reading a minimum of 20 minutes a day, enables a child’s vocabulary to develop, potentially “exposing them to 1.8 million vocabulary words a year”. (yaktrinews.com).
Perhaps reading can be included into other activities. For example, during dinner prep, the kids can read the cooking directions or the ingredients listed on the boxes. You can also play a reading game in the car, by taking turns reading the street and business signs you pass in your travels. September is a time when back to school energy is in the air, and it may just be the perfect time to start a new reading habit with your little ones. Whether thats just for pleasure, helping them with their homework and book projects, or to simply get in some quality snuggle time.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader” –Margaret Fuller, Journalist
An avid book reader, Angela Waterfield is new to the world of e-Readers. She has a background in education, emergency response, and fitness, and loves to be outside. She has contributed writing to The London Free Press, The Gazette, The Londoner, Lifeliner, and Citymedia.ca.